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Milla In China

Year:1991 Issue:1

Column: SPORTS


Release Date:1991-01-20

Page: 53

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Roger Milla’s name is on the lips of every soccer aficionados. This centre-forward of the Cameroon team earned the crowd’s admiration during the XIV World Cup, held in Italy in 1990. His remarkable play and his shots to the goal contributed to Cameroon participation in the quarter finals. Last November, M. Milla, who was visiting China, met with Chinese journalists and representatives of the soccer milieu. The young looking 39 year-old “African Lion” seemed shy at first, but turned out to be a most pleasant and modest man. Here are extracts of his discussion:

“A sportsman has but one idea in mind: to win the game for the honour of his country. You asked me how I became a famous star, easy, a hard, relentless training. Anyone can become good, provided they train seriously and listen to their coaches.

I started playing soccer when I was eight; when I was thirteen, I attended all the matches I could; at sixteen, I became part of the national team of Cameroon. Once I decided to train seriously, I led a regular life, turning in early, abstaining from drinking wine... Today I am extremely fit.

While with the National team of Cameroon, I trained with three foreign coaches. The first, a German, insisted on good physical condition; the second, a Yugoslavian, put tremendous importance on one’s skill during a game; while the third, a French, emphasized techniques and tactics. These three methods are indispensable to form a soccer player. Training with different coaches is the best thing that can happen to an athlete, because it will give him the opportunity to learn different aspects of the game.

From 1977 to 1989, I was a member of five French soccer club, participated three times in the European Cup, and twice in the World Cup. In soccer, Cameroon belongs to the third world, it is better for the players to go to developed countries to gain experience. For those who play in European clubs, it is hard to have their talents acknowledged; they earn much less than their European counterparts even though they might work more.

In 1982, Cameroon’s national team participated for the first time in the World Cup and during the three meets drew; the second World Cup was in Rome and we were very sure of ourselves. After this encounter, many western teams wanted to have me in their team, but they did not accept my price. In the West, third world soccer players are despised. If I ask for a high salary, it is because I want them to understand that the level of soccer in the third world is no longer that of yesterday. If we can not get to an agreement, I will no longer play soccer, but still do something related to sports. I cannot live without soccer.

During my first visit to China in 1974 with the Cameroon’s junior soccer team, I was impressed with the level of many Chinese athletes. It is very unfortunate that after this visit, I did not get another opportunity to compete with the Chinese team.

We are very grateful to the Chinese who supported us during the World Cup in Rome.”

Soccer star Milla interviewed by a Chinese sports journalist. XINHUA

Soccer star Milla interviewed by a Chinese sports journalist. XINHUA

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