Cameroon has always been one of the highlighted African teams who even managed to win Argentina 1-0 in World Cup 1990. The African nation has produced some great players to this date who are actually the subject of our today’s post: best Cameroonian footballers of all time.
There are some Cameroon football legends like Roger Milla and some Cameroon soccer players in Europe like Samuel Eto'o on our list of best Cameroonian footballers of all time though most of them are retired and should better be called former Cameroon soccer players in Europe.
Samuel Eto'o is a special one on the list and if he was still in the business, he could be sure among the best
Cameroon players in 2021
. Could he be counted on as one of Cameroon football legends? That’s a question to ask but as we mentioned above there is no doubt that if he was still in the business, he was among the best Cameroon players in 2021.
The List of best Cameroonian footballers of all time starts with a goalkeeper, but let’s see which other footballers are on the list.
Not only considered as one of the
best Cameroonian footballers of all time
but also one of the best African goalkeepers ever, Thomas N'kono is often known for his long stay with the Cameroonian national team. He actually served the team for almost 20 years between 1975 and 1994 making an overall of 63 appearances for them in the process and taking part in three editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1982, 1990, and 1994 editions, and four editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 1982, 1984, 1986, and 1990 editions, with them actually winning the 1984 and finishing as runner-up in 1986 edition.
N'kono has also received two African Player of the Year awards in 1979 and 1982. At club level, the most prominent club he served was the La Liga club, Espanyol, for whom he also made the most number of appearances: 272 only at league level which is at least two times higher than the number of appearances he made for other clubs he served during his career. In playstyle, he was often known for his aggressive kind of play coming out and punching the ball with power depriving the opposition’s forward the goalscoring chances from crosses and when this playstyle was combined with his tall stature, acrobatic moves and strong presence at the goal, the result was a commanding and confident goalkeeper who had also leadership qualities.
It might be interesting for you to know that N'kono was also known for his moustache and acrobatic celebrations. His top performances at 1990 World Cup was actually a source of inspiration for the youngGianluigi Buffon
who later became one of the top goalkeepers in the history of the Italian football and also named his first son, Louis Thomas, after the Cameroonian goalkeeper.
The oldest footballer on the list of best Cameroonian footballers of all time, Jean Manga-Onguene is a 75-year-old retired footballer who played as a forward and just for one club, namely the Cameroonian club, Canon Yaounde, in his 16-year career from 1966 to 1982. Since Manga-Onguene is an old-time footballer, there is no exact information at hand about how many goals he scored during his club career or for theCameroonian national team
. What we know is that he played for Cameroon in 1970 and 1972 editions of Africa Cup of Nations as well as in World Cup qualification rounds. He was named African Footballer of the Year in 1980 and has been chosen as one of the 200 top African footballers in the past 50 years by CAF. It should also be mentioned here that Manga-Onguene won 16 club trophies including six Cameroon Premier Division titles with the club team he served during his career.
Another forward on the list of best Cameroonian footballers of all time, Francois Omam-Biyik is a 55-year-old retired footballer who was actually considered as one of the key players in the Cameroonian national team during 1990s. He took part in three editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1990, 1994, and 1998 editions, becoming the Cameroonian footballer with the most number of appearances in World Cup - 11 appearances, however, what is Omam-Biyik is famed for is not the number of his appearances in World Cup but the single winning goal he scored with his head against the defending champions, Argentina, in 1990 World Cup; what was quite a rarity in those times - we mean an African team beating a European or South American team - and maybe what fueled Cameroon to advance to the same competition’s quarter-finals.
Omam-Biyik also scored a goal against Sweden in 1994 World Cup, and although he was called up to the Cameroonian national team in 1998 World Cup, too, he didn’t score a goal in that competition. All in all, he scored a total of 26 goals in 73 appearances for his country’s national team - 1.05 goals in every 3 appearances - which has made him Cameroon’s 5th top scorer of all time. They say Omam-Biyik’s most crucial capability lied in his heading which he once said about he was born with. That header ability had become so famous during 90s that the term “Omam-Biyik” was used sometimes as a nickname for a headed goal! It might be interesting for you to know here that the 55-year-old retired Cameroonian footballer started his youth career as a goalkeeper, then he was moved to the defender position, and finally striker just before he was 17.
A defender yet a key player for the Cameroonian national team in 1990s and early 2000s, Rigobert Song is a big name in the Cameroonian footballer who, if cannot be among
Cameroon football legends
- some believe he can, he is for sure one of the top defenders Cameroon has ever produced. At club level, he never served within Cameroonian leagues but European ones withLiverpool
and West Ham United being the top clubs he served during his career, although not the clubs he served the most; Galatasaray and Metz were actually the clubs he served the most with each of them getting a share of four years from his years of service.
Song also served the Cameroonian national team for 17 years between 1993 and 2010 making 137 appearances for them in the process, and by doing so, he actually became the most capped Cameroonian footballer ever; the title he has held to this date. This is not actually the only international record to Song’s name; he took part in a record eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments with the Cameroonian national team captaining the team in five of them, and he also holds the record for the most number of consecutive appearances in Africa Cup of Nations with 35 appearances in a row in the competition. For your information, the editions of Africa Cup of Nations Song took part in were the 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 editions with the 2000 and 2002 editions being actually won by him and the Cameroonian national team.
Song also took part in four editions of FIFA World Cup, actually the 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2010 editions, with his World Cup debut being in a match against Mexico at a very early age of 17. Just imagine what a 17-year-old does in his country’s national team! However, it was the case with Rigobert Song, and you might like to know that in the same competition - we mean 1994 World Cup, he received a red card, too, and became the youngest footballer ever to have received a red card in the global competition. He andZinedine Zidane
are actually the only two footballers in the history of World Cup who have received two red cards in two different editions of the competition - in Song’s case, it was 1994 and 1998 editions.
The first passed and also the first midfielder on the list of best Cameroonian footballers of all time, Theophile Abega served only three clubs during his career with the most prominent of them being the Ligue 1 club, Toulouse. He also served the Cameroonian national team between 1976 and 1987 making 16 appearances and scoring 4 goals for them in the process. Abega also took part in three editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 1982, 1984, and 1986 editions, with the Cameroonian national team and won the 1984 edition with them. He scored three goals in that edition with one of them being scored against Nigeria in the competition’s final, however, he actually became the second top scorer of the competition behind Taher Abouzeid of Egypt with 4 goals.
Nicknamed “the doctor” for his intelligent style of play, Theophile Abega was also a fearless footballer with leading capabilities and a key player, as believed by pundits, to help Cameroon rise to power and stand as one of the most highlighted African teams, though he had also errors in his game, say, he lacked a sense of positioning, but he was a top footballer of his own time with a great touch and vision as believed by his Guardian interviewer, Jonathan Wilson, who interviewed him sometime before his death in November 2012. It should also be mentioned here that Abega has been chosen as one of the best 200 African footballers of the past 50 years by CAF.
Among top Cameroonian footballers who have only served European clubs during their careers, Lauren Etame Mayer is a 45-year-old retired defender - actually right back - who served seven European clubs during his career the most prominent of which being Arsenal whom he served the most during his career: Actually for seven years between 2000 and 2007 during which he made a total of 242 appearances and even scored 11 goals for them. And before that? Well, he served the La Liga club, Mallorca, for two years making 80 appearances and scoring 5 goals for them.
Lauren served the Cameroonian national team only for five years between 1997 and 2002 making 24 appearances and scoring one goal for them in the process, however, despite the fact that he served his country’s national team for a shorter period compared to the other footballers already mentioned on the list, he won both Africa Cup of Nations editions he took part in, namely the 2000 and 2002 editions, with Cameroon and was also named African Nations Cup Player of the Tournament in the former edition. Lauren was actually part of the Arsenal squad known as “the invincibles” due to the fact that they didn’t lose even a single league match in 2003-04 season.
Maybe the proof to the fact that he was a key player to Arsenal is what the then Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, said about him once: “He was, for me, one of the best full backs in the world, not only because of his quality but he was a character, a real character. He was scared of nobody and when you needed the nerves you could count on Lauren.”
One of the best footballers Cameroon has ever produced and the third Cameroonian top scorer of all time with 33 international goals, Patrick M'Boma is a 51-year-old retired footballer who served PSG and also some other European clubs like Parma and Cagliari during his career. M'Boma scored a total of 135 goals in 312 appearances which translates to 2.1 goals in every 5 appearances. You cannot call him a prolific goalscorer with that record, but still a good one considering that he became Coppa Italia top scorer in 1999-2000 season and also J-League top scorer in 1997-98 season while he served the Japanese club,Gamba Osaka
At international level, as mentioned above, Patrick M'Boma scored 33 goals and in 57 appearances that he made for the Cameroonian national team between 1995 and 2004. That actually translates to 2.85 goals in every 5 appearances which, as you see, is a better record than his club one. M'Boma was part of the Cameroonian national team in the 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004 editions of Africa Cup of Nations winning the 2000 and 2002 editions with them and becoming the top scorer of 2002 edition with 3 goals alongside his fellowman, Salomon Olembe, and Julius Aghahowa of Nigeria.
They say M'Boma had a powerful shot with his preferred left foot and when with Cagliari he proved to be a top scorer by scoring 22 goals in 47 appearances for the Italian team; what actually did not repeat at least at European level. And it should also be mentioned here that among all the goals the Cameroonian international scored, he’s remembered the most for the one he scored with a bicycle kick against France in 1998 World Cup.
Another defender on the list of best Cameroonian footballers of all time, Geremi Sorele Njitap Fotso, simply known as Geremi in the world of football, is a 43-year-old retired defender and defensive midfielder who played for the top European clubs, Real Madrid and Chelsea, during his career. That’s enough for him to be among the former
Cameroon soccer players in Europe
, and not actually a typical one, but one who was chosen and actively played for the top European clubs mentioned above.
Geremi served the Cameroonian national team sometime between 1996 and 2010 during which he made a total of 118 appearances for them becoming the second most capped Cameroonian footballer of all time, of course, alongside Samuel Eto'o who has reached his cap record. Geremi took part in 7 editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 editions, with the Cameroonian national team winning the 2000 and 2002 editions with them. Geremi’s point of strength was his powerful shots for which he was called “poisonous arrow”. He had also leadership qualities which helped him keep his defense line together atReal Madrid
provoking the praise of the then Real Madrid manager, Vicente del Bosque.
Undoubtedly among Cameroon football legends, Roger Milla is a 69-year-old retired Cameroonian footballer who majorly served French clubs in different tier during his career including Monaco and Montpellier. He’s actually Cameroon’s second top scorer of all time with the 43 goals he scored in 77 international appearances - 1.1 goals in every two appearances - and also the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history with the four goals he scored in 1990 FIFA World Cup at the age of 38; the age most outfield footballers retire at or even if they are in the business, they are not that effective to register a record.
Roger Milla is also one of the highly-decorated footballers on the list with some club and individual awards to his name including a FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot in 1990 and a Golden Foot Legends Award in 2014. He actually took part in four editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1988 editions, with the Cameroonian national team winning the 1986 and 1988 editions with them and becoming the tournament’s best player in the same editions. Milla was also named African Footballer of the Year in 1976 and 1990, on the FIFA 100 list by the Brazilian football legend, Pele, and the best African player of the last 50 years by CAF in 2007. In playstyle, the 69-year-old retired Cameroonian footballer was often known of his top technical play even under pressure. Some believe, that his long stay in the world of football both at club and international level, being almost 30 years in the former and 20 in the latter case, opened a way for the future African stars to emerge.
Maybe the best footballer Cameroon has ever produced, Samuel Eto'o is a 40-year-old retired forward who served top European clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid,Inter Milan
, and Chelsea during his career and as an active player; what no other footballer on the list of
best Cameroonian footballers of all time
could ever achieve - we mean playing for all the four top clubs mentioned above during one’s career. Eto'o is actually one of the highly-decorated footballers on the list, in fact, the highest-decorated one with more than 30 club and international trophies and individual awards to his name. He’s also Africa Cup of Nations and Cameroon top scorer of all time with 18 and 56 goals respectively.
Eto'o served the Cameroonian national team for 17 years between 1997 and 2014 making 118 appearances and scoring 56 goals for them in the process - almost one goal in every two appearances. He took part in six editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 editions, and besides becoming Africa Cup of Nations top scorer of all time by scoring 18 goals in all these editions, he also became the top scorer of 2006 and 2008 editions with 5 goals scored at each.
In playstyle, we should say that the 40-year-old retired Cameroonian forward was an energetic and strong forward and an accurate finisher who could score both with his feet or head. He was often deployed as a central forward due to his goalscoring capabilities, but at times, he was also deployed as a winger and even attacking midfielder where he actually created chances rather than scoring goals himself. Nearing the end of his career, Eto'o lost some of his speed as a fast player, but the interesting fact is that his goalscoring rate did not drop due to that. He was still a top-notch player considering his technique, dribbling skills, and passing abilities. To just cut it short, he’s not only considered as one of the best Cameroonian but also as one of the best African footballers of all time.
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