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Dartford FC striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong vows to make his late sister Fiona-Mercy proud

Duane Ofori-Acheampong says the death of his sister has inspired him to be a better man and make her proud.

The Dartford striker has spoken of his close relationship with older sibling Fiona-Mercy, who tragically passed away in 2015.

Ofori-Acheampong, who was playing for Torquay at the time, thought about quitting football after losing Fiona-Mercy.

Fiona-Mercy Ofori-Acheampong died in 2015
Fiona-Mercy Ofori-Acheampong died in 2015

"That was the biggest bombshell for me," he said. "I’d never lost anyone close to me, not even a friend.

"My sister is my only sibling and she’s only a year older than me so we had a really close relationship.

"When it comes to football, she was one of my biggest rooters, she’d come to watch me play and she’s the real deal when it comes to pushing me to do what I want to do.

"Losing her was the biggest thing for me and I didn’t feel like I had a comeback from that.

"In that season after Torquay when I went back to London, I was going to not carry it on and look to do something else.

"But it’s given me a mindset of trying to do it for my sister.

"I know she’s still watching me so I need to do things I know she’ll be proud of, which will give me a bit of happiness in my heart."

Ofori-Acheampong, who joined Dartford last summer, was rocked again in January by the death of his father, Ralph.

The club gave him time off to grieve but it was coming back to football which helped the 24-year-old most.

Ofori-Acheampong said: "I don’t really talk about it much but with my family being around me 24/7 I’ve had a lot of support. Dealing with this was tough but I knew I needed to keep my head focused on something.

Duane Ofori-Acheampong (left) celebrates a goal for Dartford Picture: Andy Payton
Duane Ofori-Acheampong (left) celebrates a goal for Dartford Picture: Andy Payton

"When you step away from the game like I did, you’ve got more time to think. There’s something about playing football where you can take your mind away from things.

"It’s good to keep your mind focused on other things so you can keep sane and keep positive.

"Coming back (into the squad), it’s a personal thing. With the boys and the football world it’s a lot of banter and jokiness so it’s not everything you want your team-mates to know what’s going on.

"Sitting down with the gaffer (Tony Burman), we thought to let the boys know. I was a bit wary with that, thinking ‘I don’t want everyone to know’ and the sympathy thing but they’ve been great.

"Tony’s been great with me. Sometimes it’s good to let people have their space, do their thing and he’s been great with that.

"The boys have been good around the place, keeping the fun factor and keeping the place buzzing.

"You need normality and in that aspect, they’ve been good. There was no real change."

Ofori-Acheampong also paid tribute to his mother, Rose.

He said: "She’s been a massive support for me. Without her, getting through the tough times would never have been possible.

"She is what keeps me going. Sometimes you take those things for granted but she’s been an amazing figure throughout everything that’s been going on in my life."

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