“We didn’t have a team that could compete for the trophy”
-Photo Credit- Дмитрий Садовник
Where his love for football started . . .
"My father. We had a local club in my city, he was a big fan and worked in the press. He was in charge of that and would do it all for free. When I was young he used to take me to watch the games and gradually, he made me be a ball boy. That's how the love started and it was a very precious moment for me because not every kid had that opportunity."
His football experience, growing up in Cameroon, compared with Europe . . .
"It's very different, first of all we don't have the same infrastructure and facilities in Cameroon, so it was very difficult. Not every parent would let their child play football, it was just all about school. But my father had that real love for the game so he would let me do what I wanted. He let me play football anytime that I wanted to play outside of school. "
Why the Belgium Pro league is a popular destination for African players . . .
"I think it is because of the nature of the game here in Belgium, it is very physical and you have to run from the start to the end. So I think for African players, it is easier for them to adapt to these conditions."
Already being an AFCON winner with the Indomitable Lions in his mid-twenties . . .
"For us, going into the Africa Cup of Nations our objective was just to get through to the next stage of the tournament. For a very long time Cameroon didn't go through from the group stage and this time we didn't have many known players. We were just going there to prove ourselves because for sixty percent of us, that was our first major tournament. We had this opportunity to play and from the beginning we did not think about winning the Cup, we didn't think about the finals. After beating Senegal, that's when we said that we could do this and we don't have anything to lose! We just wanted to go and play and to have fun. It's just a blessing because we didn't have a team that could compete for the trophy."
Where he goes from there, what the next big dream is . . .
"With the national team, I hope and I wish that we can win the next one. I hope that we can win it for the fans and for the country. I think the next dream for me in the national team is to get to the World Cup. I just want to improve everyday and I pray that I can play in one of the top four leagues in the World."
Why Cameroon failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia . . .
"The spirit that we had for the Cup of Nations, we lost it, that fighting spirit. I think we didn't continue in that same spirit and it cost us a lot."
A stand out Cameroon talent that's he's played alongside . . .
"There are some players with great qualities, Clinton N'Jie who plays with Marseille, he is very fast and technical, he has a very good sense of where the goal is."
The importance of his Christian faith . . .
"The way that I arrived in Europe, the way that I started to play professional football, it's a story of my faith. The more that I move forward, the more reasons I see of why my faith is important and why some things happen. I do not merit all of these things but I have them, which I believe is the will of God for me."
How much his faith impacts on his football performance . . .
"My talent is from God and the way that my career is going, it's only God who has helped me. My football and my faith go together. I met a brother called Eyong Enoh who used to play for Cameroon and he was a role model for me with his way of live in and outside of football. I had this opportunity to play with him at Standard Liege and he got me closer God and made me understand the things that I didn't."
*Message our ‘Football Africa’ show via WhatsApp