Mino Raiola, the high-profile agent who represents Paul Pogba and a slew of other stars, spotted Minala playing in amateur football in the Rome region and took him south to Napoli. He runs, he is fast. Speaking by telephone from Suzhou, where his new team Qingdao Huanghai are playing in a bubble to thwart the coronavirus, Minala said: I would have had a different career (without this controversy). Bombshell claims Camilla asked if Meghan and Harry's son Archie would have 'Ginger Afro', Rugby star diagnosed with motor neurone disease at just 33 years old, Jimmy Carr blasted over dark 9/11 joke in new Netflix show just months after Holocaust gag, Supervet's dating history and why Britney Spears hit Toxic could be about him, Transfer news LIVE: Arsenal plot fresh bid, De Jong to Man Utd latest, Lingard's next move, All the major retailers offering help to struggling families this summer - from 1 Asda meals to free Amazon TV, Only Fools and Horses episode 'banned' by creator and re-edited over Del Boy scenes, 'I knew he was gone'; Devastated dad of boy, 9, killed in farm accident makes safety plea, HELLO SAILOR! He was subjected to cruel ridicule on social media. After one year as a youth player at Napoli there was interest from Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan, he says, but in 2013 he joined Lazios under-19 squad. Sometimes people prefer to ignore that Im a good player and only point out that aspect of me.. "They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know. Last updated on 13 February 201413 February 2014.From the section European Football. Age can be a sensitive issue. Joseph Minala, the 17-year-oldCameroonian footballeron the books at Lazio, has been the centre of a storm recently. I only knew two words of Italian. New to Kayo? It was a year later that the claims were made about his age and he then made several loan moves, notably to Bari and Salernitana in Italys second tier. Something went wrong, please try again later. Minala lived in the housing centre with other youths and it was there that he trained to do another job in case his football dreams failed to materialise. The Italian club have reacted angrily to an African website's allegations and say they will will consider legal action against anyone who questions his age. Just ask Lazio, the Roman soccer club, which on Thursday announced it would sue anyone who suggested that one of its youth players was old enough to be the father of his 17-year-old teammates. In the end, it was a scam that I never understood. Not knowing what to do, Minala went to a police station.

"We reserve the right to take action against those responsible for the protection of the good name of the company and the footballer.". Minalas agent at the time explained that Minala looked older because of his difficult back story, which includes a spell in an Italian care home. I didnt know anyone, I didnt know where to go, I wanted to tell my story to the police and return to my country, he recalled. Lazio have threatened legal action over those who question the age of their 17-year-old player Joseph Minala, Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number, Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters, You must be over 18 years old to register. I was abandoned at the station with my two suitcases and a mobile phone without a SIM card in it. While it appears Minalas eight years contracted at Lazio is coming to an end, he recently gave an interview insisting he will do all he can to prove his worth to the club. Big things were expected of Minala especially given his physical strengths. The problem is that age is an old question for African footballers. Jospeh Minala also released a public statement via Lazio's website, in which he denies that he gave quotes regarding his age to the African website Senogo.net. If, on the other hand, Minala is 41, then he has little future and Lazio is being conned. Lazio responded by saying they were satisfied that Minalas birth certificate was genuine and that the documents the club filed with the soccer authorities were accurate. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? As the clubs website says in its biography of the player, Minala is now living his dream at Lazio. cameroon midfielder Minala was a budding star at Italian giants Lazio when a report out of Senegal claimed that he was not aged 17, as he said, but 41. Nobody was at the airport and he had no choice but go to the police station.". There is nothing else that makes you think he is 41. "I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my [official] documents. "Had trials at Southampton as a youngster and would've made it if it wasn't for a knee injury.". ", Minala's agent, Diego Tavano told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday: "If you talk to him, then you realise from the way he speaks that he's still absolutely a 17-year-old lad. It is a history of suspicion that now haunts Minala. Bootifulgame pointed out that whether he was 17 or 41, hes a pretty good player for his age". Modric, Perisic, Tadic: What would a modern-day Yugoslavia XI look like? It is an adventure that could make anyone look wizened before their time. The content you requested does not exist or is not available anymore. "From now on, [the club] announces that it will take any action aimed at ending such behaviour out of respect for the fans and the player while reserving the right to take action against anybody responsible [for such behaviour] to defend the good name of the club and the footballer. 2022 Copyright France 24 - All rights reserved. Despite playing 67 times for Salernitana, the club opted not to take the option of a permanent deal and Minala trudged back to Rome. Im good at baking. Minala shut down his social media accounts as they filled with insulting messages questioning his age. We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. If I happen to have an opportunity with Lazio, I will take it as I always have, he said. He blocked photos on his Instagram account, deleted his Facebook profile and filtered out Twitter pictures of himself, although he does still tweet. Period. All Rights Reserved. Joseph Minalas career was rocked by false reports he was 24 years old than he claimed to be. It is a controversial story because the face of the player is not that of a 17-year-old guy. By clicking Create my account you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to ourTerms of use,Cookie policyandPrivacy notice. You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning, Take international news everywhere with you! A French-language Senegalese website first published a report quoting Minala as saying he would be 42 at his next birthday in August, and then another saying it had found childhood friends of Minala who say he is at least 36. But since I was an unaccompanied minor, they took me to a hospital for tests, then to a social welfare centre and I was enrolled in an Italian school. "He is a very reactive player. The Serie A club was reacting to an internet and Twitter frenzy surrounding Joseph Marie Minala, an attacking midfielder from Cameroon. I had the opportunity to go to France, I had the opportunity to go to Paris Saint-Germain at the time but it didnt happen.. However, after making three appearances at the end of the 2013/14 campaign at such a young age, Minala hasnt been able to fulfil his incredible potential. Transfer window: 32 moves you may have forgotten ever happened, Chelsea's Raheem Sterling thrashes Thomas Tuchel in wholesome table tennis footage, Man Utd: 250k-a-week star now 'open to joining' at Old Trafford, West Ham still in conversation over 32.3m signing at London Stadium, Chelsea: Tuchel 'wants' key signing after 105m duo at Stamford Bridge, Manuel Neuer slammed by taxi driver who drove 75 miles to return wallet, Rudiger, Silva, Zouma: Every Chelsea CB since John Terry ranked. The midfielder also issued a statement via the club's website denying he told an African website he was 41. This is an image that some people unfortunately have of me, Minala added. 17 going on 41: Joseph Minala might look older, but he's definitely only 17-years-old, say his club. ", His agent, Diego Tavano, told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport: He had a difficult time growing up. ", "We reserve the right to take action against those responsible for the protection of the good name of the company and the footballer. He only wants to play football as he did on the road years ago barefoot. If you talk to him youll realise he is in every way a 17-year-old lad.". The player, who was called up to the Lazio first team for the first time for last Sunday's Rome derby, appears far older than his years, and has had to deny that he told a website that he was really 41, saying: "It's false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know and for whom I reserve every action of damage.". The Lazio website goes on to tell what, depending on your point of view, is either a heart warming story of triumph over adversity, or a typical tale of the callous way agents and European clubs treat young African desperate to live the dream". You could never say he is 41," he told BBC World Service." "They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know.". Read about our approach to external linking. In a bid to put an end to the speculation, a statement on Lazio's website said that they will: "confirm the absolute legitimacy of the paperwork filed with the federation and denounce the latest attempts, from hostile domains, to cast a sinister light over the club's operations. Tweeters have pointed out that in photographs he looks much older. That is the only thing he is focused on and being a talent because he is a talent. Minala, says Lazio, found himself in foster care but was spotted playing the game he loved for a local amateur team. However, the midfielders luck didnt really change as he played 15 times in the league as the side finished 7th out of eight teams. France 24 - International breaking news, top stories and headlines. Minala said, "I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my documents. But nowLe Aquilehave threatened legal action against anybody who questions the legitimacy of his age. Each email has a link to unsubscribe. A football agent shouldve been at the [airport] to wait for him and try to help him find a club where he can become a professional football player. As a teenager, Minala is an impressive talent. He will spend this season with Qingdao and is unsure what will happen when his contract expires in June 2021 at Lazio, where he has made a handful of first-team appearances. 2022 Sports New Media Limited. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the newsletter email. A lot of people expected me to stop playing or go crazy.. An African football website suggested that the Cameroonian midfielder was 25 years older than he was claimingwhich actually led to an official investigation from the Italian Football Association. It will be interesting to see the next chapter in Minalas career. It held back my career and is (still) holding back my career, the Cameroonian tells AFP. However, in a truly bizarre story, he was immediately accused of being 42. Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies. Minala turned 24 last month and is now playing in the Chinese Super League, but the midfielder says that he cannot shake off the stigma. His parents spent a lot of money to finance the trip to Italy, but after arriving the 14-year-old Minala found himself stranded at a Rome train station. The player was spotted as a talented youngster in Cameroon, and a former player who was also an agent promised him a trial at AC Milan. At the end of his loan in China in January 2021, Minala once again returned to Lazio. That is it. "He is a kid with the head of a kid. The allegation gained traction because Minalas rugged appearance and well-developed physique made him look significantly older. But Italys football association conducted an investigation and concluded that he was telling the truth.

Italian journalist Max Evangelista, who reports on Lazio's youth team, said any suggestions the player was 41 were "unbelievable". Once you have subscribed we will use the email you provided to send you the newsletter. On Twitter, NotMatchoftheDay called him footballs Benjamin Button".

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He said Minala had scored five goals and made six assists this season for Lazio's youth team, who are the holders of the national title. Lazio have threatened legal action against those who have questioned the legitimacy of the age of their 17-year-old Cameroonian player Joseph Minala. Issued on: 13/02/2014 - 21:14Modified: 13/02/2014 - 21:45. France 24 is not responsible for the content of external websites. Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in, The club have been forced to prove that he is still a teenager and threaten legal action against anyone who questions the age of their striker, Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. The youngster has now shut down hissocial media accountsafter abuse over his age. It is unbelievable news, that is why Lazio felt the need to deny it. "At the age of 15 he decided to leave his home town Yaound so that he can go to Rome, Italy where there is something waiting for him," says Lazios English-language site. Totally unbiased Liverpool fan with a deep hatred of VAR.

Minala had an incredibly physique for someone so young something that undoubtedly saw people wrongly accuse him of lying about his age. However, his contract at the Italian club expires at the end of the season and, according to Transfermarkt, he will be released. I want to show the club that I have matured; I hope to finally have my chance to show how much I am worth.. Lazio beat off competition from several other Italian clubs to sign him. Get the FREE Mirror Football newsletter with the day's key headlines and transfer news straight into your inbox. "On his face there is sign of his previous life, which was not a happy life. Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in, Please refresh your browser to be logged in, Lazio insist striker is only 17 despite rumours claiming he is 41, At least 20% off branded sports clothing at Very, Getaway Deals up to 15% off with Booking.com in July, Free UK delivery worth 5 on orders worth 60 - Debenhams promo code, Up to 70% off this week with AliExpress super value deals, 15% off tablets, phones, consoles, smartwatches - eBay voucher code, Compare broadband packages side by side to find the best deal for you, Compare cheap broadband deals from providers with fastest speed in your area, All you need to know about fibre broadband, Compare iPhone contract deals and get the best offer this July, Compare the best mobile phone deals from the top networks and brands. At the start of this year he moved to Qingdao on loan, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed his debut until last month. I keep going on with my life, despite everything people have tried to do against me, said Minala, who has ambitions of playing for Cameroons national team. Audience ratings certified by ACPM/OJD. Watch European Football with beIN SPORTS and ESPN on Kayo. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the GooglePrivacy policyandTerms of serviceapply. However, in April 2014, he was cleared of any wrongdoing and, at the real age of 17, made his debut for the Serie A giants. Lazio have threatened to take legal action against anyone who questions the legitimacy of the age of their 17-year-old Cameroonian forward Joseph Minala, after the club were forced to release documents to prove he is still a teenager, and not in his forties. Minala, like most of his compatriots in Africa, dreamt of becoming a football player and living a better life". For any player to play in the top-flight in a major league at the age of 17 shows just how talented they are.

Some have questioned his age, after claims he told an African website that he is 41-years-old, which would render him ineligible to play for Lazio's youth sides. "He was in an orphanage for a couple of years in Cameroon, then he had to face the situation here by himself. An African football website suggested that the Cameroonian midfielder was 25 years older than he was claiming, Thierry Henry names Scholes and Lampard in PL Hall of Fame - but not Gerrard, Lukaku, Depay, Di Maria: The best XI of players sold by Man United since 2010, Rangers 4-1 Celtic: Alfredo Morelos' clash with Scott Brown shown in new footage, Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Kane: Top 10 goalscorers since 2014, Ronaldo, Messi, Lewandowski: 10 players with most league goals since 2020, Arsenal: 59m Premier League star is now 'one to watch' at the Emirates, Arsenal could make 'surprise' signing in 59.5m star at the Emirates.

", Minala joined the Rome club last summer and recently played for them in the. I was told that people were coming to pick me up for the trial but I waited an hour, an hour-and-a-half, and still no one was there, he said.

Is a club willing to take a chance on this one-time wonderkid? Joseph Minala is now playing in the Chinese Super League. And thats the nub. The Cameroonian footballer made headlines when he signed for the Italian club aged 17. Joseph had a difficult childhood, that's the issue. In youth matches, I often had the impression that fathers and sons were playing on the same team". He said: "I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my [official] documents. If hes 17, the club has made a potentially lucrative investment in a player who could have a long career ahead. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. His agent said Minala has led a hard life. Maybe after football, Ill open a bakery, you never know, he laughed. By clicking Register you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to ourTerms of use,Cookie policyandPrivacy notice. Guy Roux, for more than 40 years the manager at Auxerre in the French league, once told Le Parisien newspaper that when a young African "gave his age I would ask him if he was merely calculating the sales tax on the real total. After all, hes still only 24. Soon he was at Lazio. He was loaned out to several Serie B clubs including Bari and Latina before spending three consecutive seasons at Salernitana. Chinese Super League club Qingdao Huanghaioffered him a loan deal for the 2020 season. ", "They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know. Joseph Minala does not wish to dwell on the bizarre age claim which propelled him into the headlines in 2014, but there is just no getting away from it. I had opportunities at some clubs (to move there), but I think it didnt happen because of this business, he said. When you are surrounded by players running like devils around you, in my opinion it is very tough to be 41. A lot was expected of Joseph Minala when he joined Lazio in 2013. "Little did he know that nobody will be waiting for him when he arrives at Rome. New to Kayo? I am ready for any challenge, and I hope that the next one will be with the Biancocelesti. ", Minala joined the Rome club last summer and recently played for them in the Viareggio Cup youth tournament.external-link. Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >. You can unsubscribe at any time. Lazio added:external-link "We reserve the right to take action against those responsible for the protection of the good name of the company and the footballer.". Western Europeans have long viewed the documents carried by African footballers with suspicion. Nigerian fans, bloggers and even club officials suggest that their countrys failure to turn success in under-17 competitions into triumph at the World Cup is because the stars of their youth teams, Taribo West, Nwankwo Kanu, Obafemi Martins, Jay-Jay Okocha and so on, were all grown-ups when they played in youth competitions and, therefore, too old when they played as grown-ups.