In an interview with our colleagues at the site sofoot.com, the former indomitable Lion denounces without putting on gloves, the management of Cameroonian football and the national pennant that he no longer wants to hear about.
From his departure from Betis Sevilla in 2011, in Mumbai where he plays in Indian Super League, through Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, or in the lower divisions of the Spanish league, he empties his bag.
After so many experiences abroad, how did you end up playing for Mumbai?
As I found myself playing in almost all the clubs where I went: the coach really wanted me and he made a phone call to make me understand. I quickly realized that it could be a rewarding experience for me and because of that, I wanted to try. Everything was super fast.
The Indian League is not a bit boring?
It may surprise you, but I take a lot of fun. I’m having fun and I needed that. Of course, this is not the level of La Liga or the championship of France, but here, there is a real desire to improve and develop football.
Whether at the level of the organization of the competition, or within the club, everything is done to pull us up. In addition, I arrive with an experienced player status so they give me a lot of responsibilities and I like it. And then they had a lot of old stars signed. The other day, I found myself playing against Robbie Keane. I have never played in the Premier League and I found it great to be able to rub shoulders with this type of player on the other side of the world. Here, they do not look at the age, if they consider that you are at the level, you play.
How is your everyday life in India?
It’s completely different from what I’ve experienced before. You have to be able to adapt to a lot of things. One of the big differences is that almost all players live at the hotel. Apart from a few local people who have a house, we are all in the same place seven days a week. The trips are long, so we can not afford to waste time. And then there is a big problem of pollution and traffic here.
Just to get to the training ground, it can be very painful. I’ll give you an example: there is a supermarket not far from the hotel. It’s supposed to be barely twenty minutes away, but if you want to get there by bus, you need more than an hour. As a result, many are confined to the hotel all day. I must admit that I spend a lot of time watching movies on my phone.
Many people who follow football lost sight of you in 2011 when you left Betis for Saudi Arabia. At that moment, you are only 29 years old. Why this choice ?
I did not wish it. Betis either. Nothing was planned. I came back after the summer holidays and the club made me understand that there were financial problems. As a result, they had to sell a lot of players. I ended up playing in Saudi Arabia.
Then Dubai …
Yes. It was not really a place I liked about football. People live at night there, I had the impression that football did not interest anyone. You get into the stadiums, and the stands are empty, it’s very strange. I did not expect that because I was coming from Saudi Arabia where, contrary to what one can imagine, people are passionate about football and the stadiums are always full.
Nevertheless, you continued to travel …
Yes. (Laughs) It’s funny because now when I look at my passport, there are lots of visas everywhere. But honestly, I do not regret it, I take my choices. In life, you sometimes have to learn to suffer and make difficult decisions if you want to continue doing what you love. I gained experience not only in the field but also outside. Then I experimented with different types of football all over the world. In the end, it’s very positive.
What do you remember from these trips?
That you have to be able to adapt everywhere, which is not easy. Today in India for example, I have five hours of time difference with my family who is in Spain. So you have to be organized to get some news. Almost every week, I’m learning something new. I thought I had already seen a lot of things coming here.
But what marks me since my arrival in Mumbai is that the country is so big that we prepare the matches totally differently. Each time we move, we leave three days in advance to adapt to the climate, time. Leaving three days for a trip to the league is something I never did.
Does your Toulouse period coincide with the best years of your life?
From afar. I owe everything to this club. They gave me a lot. When I arrived in Toulouse, we were in National. And when I left the club, we had just played the Champions League. It has been a human adventure that I will never forget.
President Sadran bothered us as if we were his children. We lived crazy stuff, but my biggest memory, it will remain forever the rise in Ligue 1. At the time, no one was waiting for us, the party had been great. I see the president in tears on the ground and in the locker room. Real emotions.
Cameroon did not qualify for the World Cup. Between the Indomitable Lions and you, is it over?
Definitely. I close my eyes to this selection. I do not want to hear about it anymore. I will not say that it was a waste of time for me, but in any case, a huge disappointment. There is too much corruption in Cameroonian football, too many people who think they are kings and who are harming our sport. It has always been an honor to be called. But hey, leaders need to understand that when you come to play, you leave your club for several days.
You have the trip to think. You arrive in the country and you realize that you have to sleep at the airport. It’s complete rubbish. Some people see selection as their personal heritage and it is not acceptable. I wish to continue living my life away from it all.