Celtic can help barefoot village kid realise World Cup dream
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2009
Cameroonian genius Roger Milla was 38 years-old when Italia 90 catapulted him to international stardom. Landry N'Guemo barely remembers watching the 1990 World Cup but he's watched African football's first legend often enough on video. Now he dreams of following in his hero's footsteps.
Landry N'Guemo was recalled to the Cameroon international team recently and his first start for his country in almost two years, against Angola, has given him hope of fulfilling his dearest wish. Cameroon sit one point clear at the top of African Group A and they can clinch their place at South Africa 2010 if they can beat Morocco away from home on the 14th of November. Emulating the legendary Roger Milla by strutting his stuff at next year's World Cup finals would have been unthinkable for N'Guemo just a few short years back .
World Cup dreams
Landry grew up in the little village of Dschang, a million miles away from the professional game, where he played barefoot on the most inhospitable surfaces. "In Africa, there are no grass pitches for young children to play football on." he said. "We would play on rocks and stones in our bare feet. We never wore shoes because we were never able to. My toes were always bleeding and my legs still have the scars from those days. I have marks all down my shins and on my knee. The first time I played in an organised game was when I was 13. I moved to Yaounde and I was picked up by Nancy."
"It's hard for me to remember the 1990 World Cup, because I was so young." said Celtic's number 6. "But I used to watch the footage of him shaking the corner flag when he scored. Milla was the star of the tournament for Cameroon and he was a hero to all the young football players in the country. He is someone I look up to. We have one more game to win and that would guarantee a World Cup place. If that was to happen, it would be more than a dream for me. A few years ago, when I first joined Nancy as a teenager, I couldn't even begin to dream about that becoming a reality."
N'Guemo will come face to face with another of his heroes when Celtic take on top Bundesliga side Hamburg in their Europa League Group C tie on Thursday. Brazilian star Ze Roberto has had a glittering career with Real Madrid, Flamengo, Bayer Leverkusen, and Bayern Munich and has been capped 84 times by his national team "I have always admired Ze Roberto." said Landry. "He is a very good player and I can't believe he is now 35. For a long time, he has been successful and he is still very strong. Ze Roberto sits in midfield and controls the game. We will have to watch him very closely. But Hamburg have other good players, as well. It's a very important match for us. We are looking for our first win in the Europa League and we have to get three points to get off the bottom of the table."