Headline: Roger Milla continues to inspire football lovers
Location: Yaoundé , Cameroon
Article Synopsis: 19 years after Roger Milla exploded onto the scene in the 1990 World Cup in Italy with his clever play style and hip-swinging Makossa dance, Africa has not had another player to match him. This football legend continues to inspire young players and contribute to Cameroon ’s football development. He may be retired, but Milla is in no way tired as he still has lofty plans for football.
First Paragraph: As the 2010 World Cup in South Africa approaches, memories are flooding back — including that famous dance of Cameroonian whiz-kid Roger Milla who is credited by many with putting African football on the map with his exploits in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Keywords: Roger Milla, intelligent, makossa, dance, inspire football, development.
Related Media: http://www.africamediaonline.com
Text: As the 2010 World Cup in South Africa approaches, memories are flooding back — including that famous dance of Cameroon whiz-kid Roger Milla who is credited by many with putting African football on the map with his exploits in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Whilst many African players excel in the international football arena, Milla at 38, the oldest player to have scored four goals during this high-level competition, is a player in a different league.
“It would take two to three decades to get another African player like Milla,” said football consultant Bobo Forbrin, in summing up his achievements.
Milla and the Indomitable Lions changed the perception of African teams in the World Cup as their performance led to the totting up to three the number of African teams that participated in the 1994 World Cup.
Not only did the 1976 CAF African Cup winner who collected the Golden Ball for the African Player of the year, leave lasting footprints in enlivening the world cup with his intelligent, excellent football skill, but he also set a tradition of celebrating with dancing after scoring a goal. Milla remembers with a smile what happened in 1990 when he did his first dance steps.
“When I scored my first goal against Romania a spontaneous idea flashed in my mind that I had to go to the corner of the flag to dance,” Milla explained. Little did he know he was setting in motion a tradition of dancing after goals that others, like Adebayo, followed in years to come. “I had no idea I was setting a trend, but it opened the way for others to express their joy in any way they wanted,” he said. He added that when he danced, he was expressing his euphoria at not letting down those who had believed in him, supported and encouraged him on his journey to the World Cup.
There was a public cry for Milla to join the conflict-torn Indomitable Lions, when he returned from the Reunion Island for Theophile Abega’s (friend and team mate) jubilee. His playing style, even at the age of 38, convinced Cameroonians that he was what the Lions needed.
“The then Minister of Sports, Joseph Fofe, refused to heed the voice of the people until a Presidential decree took me, a retired player, back to the Lion’s den,” Milla narrated with a grin.
Forbrin thinks Milla had a strong style and did not like contact, which is why he eliminated his opponents by either short or long dribbles taking maximum advantage of his ability to think ahead of opponents. He recalls these striking qualities of Milla in the match against Romania:
“Milla scored a memorable goal by sending the ball in the air, running round to collect it when Omam Biyuick was suspended in the air with the defender, and sending the ball in a semi-volley into the net,” recalls Forbrin, “And while his playing style was spectacular, his dance added spice to the goals scored.”
Friend and team mate, Bertin Ndingue Ebwelle, believes that Milla’s dance was part of his creative spirit that spurred his football actions. “As a genius he knew how to bring in innovation and was like a pace setter. He did not have only one dribble tactic, he had a fantastic body movement, and a formidable head gesture,” he said.
Today, young Cameroonian players are still inspired by Milla as their role model and prototype. David Tataw, a midfielder with Canon of Yaoundé, dreams of working hard to be like Milla.
“I am going to practice the same dance style, to dance when I score. Milla is a genius and I believe if I follow his steps I shall certainly be on top of the game,” Tataw boasts. Another young star, an attacker from Canon of Yaoundé, Owona Gabriel, also wants to play and act “a la Roger Milla.”
Opinion is rife that the legendary Cameroonian player is too vocal at times, as was evident during a meeting at the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education where he told Otto Pfister, the former Indomitable Lions Coach to pack and leave Cameroon. But he continues to contribute to football development, encouraging youths to work hard at the game.
“As Roving Ambassador I am at the disposal of Cameroon football and sports and if the Minister of Sports demands that I accomplish certain tasks, I willingly do that”, Milla said of his present status.He was recently invited to hand over the Man of the Match trophy to Mefire of Panthere de Nde, winner of the 2009 trophy during the Cup of Cameroon finals in which Panthere defeated Astres of Douala 3-2. He has also been called on to serve as source of inspiration to U-20 Lions during the World Cup hosted by Egypt.
Milla believes that the Cameroonian football authorities should prepare a contract for the present coach, Paul Le Guen, so that in the event of qualification for the World Cup/CAN, logistics are already in place to get the proverbial ball rolling, instead of then having to search for a coach.
Milla still dreams of setting up a centre to train footballers and has embarked on humanitarian activities through an outfit to care for underprivileged children, Foundation Coeur D’Afrique.