Roger Milla: The Lion, the Magician, and the Magic Play

Roger Milla: The Lion, the Magician, and the Magic Play

Roger Milla: The Lion, the Magician, and the Magic Play

Together with 1xBet, we look back at the brilliant career of one of Africa's greatest footballers.

A unique award

Before Cameroon's first match in Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino honored Roger Milla as the oldest player to score a World Cup final goal. And Roger has received numerous individual awards in his time and even became a prestigious Knight of the Legion of Honor. Finally, however, FIFA touched him - it's not every day that the organization honors people who have made a difference in the most popular game on the planet. However, with the presentation of this award, we want to recall the brilliant career of one of the most famous athletes of the Black Continent.

Soccer as entertainment

Roger was born May 20, 1952, in a family of a railroader. His hometown was Yaoundé, the capital of French Cameroon. Eight years later, Cameroon became an independent country, and another year later, our hero's parents moved to Douala, the largest city in the country and its economic capital.

Someone said that football is the sport of the poor who want to become rich. However, in the case of Roger, this was not the case - his family was middle class and could give him a good education. Moreover: when his parents noticed their son raced the ball after school and came back too late, they were unhappy - the child had to go home on time and help around the house. Especially since, in those days, Cameroon did not yet have excellent children's soccer academies, well-maintained fields, and licensed coaches, so children had to play barefoot on a dusty court. 

Milla did not think about a professional career: many years later, he said he played soccer with friends for fun and polished his technique during school vacations. However, at 13, he became a soccer player for Eclair de Douala's junior team and participated extensively in school tournaments. The parents also agreed - seeing their son's successes, they allowed him to play soccer.

First clubs, first victories

At 15, Milla made his debut for the club's adult team in the second division of the Cameroonian championship. Even then, he began to score regularly. Interestingly, the young Roger managed to find time for athletics - at 17, he won the tournament in the high jump at a school in Cameroon. This victory added to the teenager’s self-confidence, and he decided to become a professional athlete.

In 1970 18-year-old forward Roger Milla signed a contract with the top division club Leopard Duala. He won the Cameroonian championship three times with this team and scored 89 goals in 116 games. Four years later, he moved to Tonnere from Yaoundé, won the African Cup Winners' Cup, and scored 69 goals in 87 games. In 1976, he was named the best player in Africa. After these exploits, the French Valenciennes - an outsider of Division 1 (Ligue 1, which we know was established only in 2002) paid attention to him, and in 1977 Milla got a chance to prove himself in a robust European championship.