One of Africa’s most glorious World Cup moments came courtesy of Roger Milla. He put two past Colombia back in 1990 to take Cameroon through to the round of eight – a first for an African team. And his Makossa dance around the corner flag further sealed Milla’s place in African hearts. 24 years on, Milla is still one of the continent’s biggest ambassadors for the beautiful game. But he’s also a fierce critic – of how Africa’s been playing it.
In Cameroon, football is the sport of choice but handball is a close second.
This club is Tonnerre Yaounde, one of the country’s best – and its patron is RogerMilla.
Since retiring from football, he’s dedicated himself to developing handball.
Milla said, “Before I went to France, all other sporting disciplines in cameroon were down… we had only football. So people told me when you leave what will we do.. please come back and help us build handball – so that is why I have this club today.”
Still, Milla will be heading to Brazil soon to join the World Cup party, despite the fact that Cameroon’s campaingn is over.
He said, “I can only support one team Cameroon and if they are out then I support football…”
For a while now, the Indomitable Lions have failed to roar.
Milla says part of the problem is lack of investment in domestic football.
“We have no football in Cameroon because no one brings good discipline to the local players. In the past I was the only one playing abroad everyone else played at home and we had a strong team but now there’s no good management,” he said.
Just like in 2010, this campaign was almost derailed by rows over bonuses.
But Cameroon’s not the only African side that has to contend with those sorts of tussles.
Milla again blames management.
Milla said, “When we played our motivation was for love of the game and country but today there must be financial motivation for teams. Things have changed. Next year we have Afcon and we will need such issues sorted out early not waiting two days before a tournament to discuss financial matters. All countries are working hard to improve but Africa’s biggest problem lies in management.”
Milla is seen as the father of flamboyant football celebrations thanks to his dance.
But the 62 year old says his best memories are the goals he scored – particularly when he was 42…
“It’s difficult for players to do this…” he laughed.
CCTV correspondent Celestine Karoney said, “Roger Milla is held in very high esteem here in Cameroon and maybe more for the the era of football he represented than individual achievements. A time when the Indomitable lions lived up to their nickname both on the world stage and in Africa. A status fans here hope the team can gain once more especially with another cup of nations just around the corner.”