By Afeseh Apong, kick442.com
The name Albert Roger Milla is certainly not new to football lovers, especially those who were opportune to watch football in the period between the early 1970 and the late 1990’s.
Born in Cameroon’s political capital on May 20, 1952, young Roger Milla would commence his football journey at the tender age of 13, when he joined the youths ranks Eclair de Douala.
His rich football journey took him through 11 clubs both in Cameroon and abroad, prominent amongst which were the legendary Leopard of Douala, Tonnerre Kalara club of Yaounde, and stints abroad with Valenciennes, Monaco, Bastia, amongst others.
Roger Milla set the records straight, especially with Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions. Since making his first appearance for the Lions in a FIFA World Cup qualifying game against the Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo), in 1973, Milla went on to represent his country in three FIFA World Cups (1982, 1990, and 1994).
The 1990 and the 1994 FIFA World Cups were remarkable in Roger Milla’s career, not only because he came out of retirement to play the two tournaments, but because of his sensational performance in the events.
In 1988, aged 36, Roger Milla celebrated his retirement from international football, but a phone call from Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya in 1990, forced Milla overturn his decision, as he came out of retirement, and was part of the Cameroon squad at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.
Italy 1990 saw Milla make a name for himself, as his ‘super-sub’ status helped Cameroon qualify for the World Cup’s quarter final, the first African country to achieve that feat.
Milla scored twice in Cameroon’s opening game against Romania, and came off the bench against Colombia in the last 16, to score twice as Cameroon booked a quarterfinal ticket.
He finished the competition with four goals — incredible achievement for a 40-year-old.
Milla again answered the State President’s call to play in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and scored against Russia, setting the record of the oldest player to ever participate and score in a World Cup.
His final cap for the Indomitable lions came in December 1994, in a friendly game against South Africa.
Roger Milla was noted for his trademark goal celebration, running to the corner flag, and producing a special dance.
For over 21 years with the Indomitable Lions, Milla summed up 77 caps, scoring 43 goals which makes him the second top scorer in the history of the Cameroon national team, behind Samuel Eto’o.
At club level, Milla scored a whopping 405 goals, in 666 appearances.
This earned him eight senior trophies, amongst which two Africa Cup of Nations titles, an African Cup Winners’ Cup and two Coupe de France.
He also picked up 13 individual awards, prominent amongst which are African Footballer of the Year in 1976 and 1990; FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1990 and Golden Foot Legends Award in 2014.
At 67 years, Albert Roger Milla is now Cameroon’s Roving Ambassador, and great example to emulate by young footballers.