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Wayne Lumbasi

Roger Milla was born on May 20, 1952, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Much of his childhood was spent moving around due to his father’s railroad job. The then 13 year old Milla’s soccer talents were immediately noticed by a club in Douala and he was signed.

Within five years he won his first league championship for his team Leopards Douala. Milla soon jumped onto his next club, the Tonnerre of Yaounde where he won league wins and medals. The same year he was named African Footballer of the Year. 

       Roger Milla /Getty Images/

He is a retired Cameroonian striker and notably was one of the first African players to make it big on the international stage. His trademark goal celebration of running to the corner flag and performing a dance led to the many unconventional and artistic goal celebrations seen today.

His name is still a household name among many both at home and abroad. He was nicknamed the Indomitable Lion for his flawless soccer talent and standing up to Cameroonian government officials against their lack of support for the sport. Today Milla not only acts as a soccer agent but runs his humanitarian foundation – the Roger Milla Heart of Africa Foundation which helps underprivileged kids in Cameroon.

Roger Milla with the AFCON trophy during the AFCON 2021 games /CAF/

Roger Milla set the records straight, especially with Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions. Since making his first appearance for the Lions in a world cup qualifying game against Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo), in 1973. Milla also represented his country in three World Cups; 1982 in Spain, 1990 in Italy, and 1994 in the USA.

Two African legends in one picture. Didier Drogba and roger Milla embrace each other /AP/

He led the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon to become the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals in 1990, paving the way for FIFA to okay the participation of 5 African teams at the world cup instead of 2. 

He achieved international stardom at 38 years old, an age at which most forward-playing footballers have retired, by scoring four goals at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Four years later, at the age of 42, he became the oldest goal scorer in World Cup history by scoring against Russia in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

1990 World Cup Finals, Second Phase, Naples, Italy, 23rd June, 1990, Cameroon 2 v Colombia 1, Cameroon’s Roger Milla celebrates after scoring the second goal to put his team through to the quarter finals /Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images/

For over 21 years with the Indomitable Lions, Milla summed up 77 caps, scoring 43 goals which make 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 (8) senior trophies, amongst which two AFCON winners medals, an African Cup Winners’ Cup, and two Coupe de France. 

In 2004, He also picked up individual awards which include; the African Footballer of the Year in 1976 and 1990. FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1990 and Golden Foot Legends Award in 2014.

        Roger Milla during the Golden Foot Legends Award ceremony in 2014 /Getty Images/

Basically, Roger Milla had the following honors during his career:

✓ African Footballer of the Year: 1976, 1990

✓ Africa Cup of Nations Best Player: 1986

✓ African Cup of Nations Top Scorer: 1986, 1988

✓ FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot: 1990

✓ FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1990

✓ FIFA 100-a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé in conjunction with FIFA’s centenary celebrations

✓ CAF Best African Player of the last 50 years: 2007

✓ Golden Foot Legends Award: 2014

✓ IFFHS Legends

Milla starred in a Coca-Cola advertisement for 2010 FIFA World Cup as the originator of dancing whilst celebrating when scoring a goal. He is seen in the crowd drinking Coca-Cola. Albert Roger Milla is now Cameroon’s Roving ambassador and a great example to be emulated by young footballers.

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Wayne Lumbasi

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