- 15 Nov 2007
- IOC News
A Roaring Lion in the Country of Kangaroos
The man celebrating his 37th birthday today has made football pitches his territory. Goal-scorer extraordinaire, he “terrorised” goalkeepers for the 11 years of his career, which ended in 2005. He played hundreds of matches in six leagues and on three continents. He also scored in Olympic football in Sydney in 2000 - his only participation in the Games - becoming Olympic champion with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. Throughout this thrilling tournament, star striker Patrick Mboma Dem and his team-mates were just like their maned emblem: quite simply royal.
An Array of Talents
Cameroon arrived at the Olympic tournament as winners of the African Nations Cup, won with panache against Nigeria in early 2000. At almost 30, Patrick Mboma joined the Cameroon team for the Games. This included promising young players such as Samuel Eto'o Fils and goalkeeper Idriss C Kameni, then aged 16 and the youngest player in the competition. This combination of experienced players and new talent gave the Cameroon side all its vigour without taking away any of its solidarity.
Courage in Adversity
The lion is a symbol of bravery and it was in adversity that the Cameroonians gave the best of themselves in Sydney. Indeed, Cameroon, which toyed with its supporters’ nerves, found itself trailing and in a delicate situation on several occasions. Mboma, as playmaker, showed the way to get out of the deadlock: some decisive passes here, a winning shot there, and Cameroon was back on track. While his father had been a goalkeeper defending against goals, the vocation of his son was to dance around as he led the attack and scored. In Australia, Mboma did exactly that. His total of four goals made him the best scorer on his team: two goals in the qualifying rounds against Kuwait and the USA (on a penalty), one in the quarter-final against Brazil, and another in the semi-final against Chile. Mboma also did not fail during the penalty shootout that Cameroon won 5-3 against Spain at the end of the final.
Cameroon and Africa Celebrate
With the victory of its Lions, Cameroon won the first Olympic gold medal in its history at the same time that Sydney marked the 100th year since football's first appearance on the Olympic programme. “The pride at having won and the feeling of having been really important for the team was what made me the happiest footballer when the anthem played.” For Patrick Mboma, this gold medal rewarded the whole African continent. Thus, Africa retained the title Nigeria had obtained for it four years earlier at the Atlanta Games.
Number 10 a Winner
With the title African Footballer of the Year in 2000, Patrick Mboma ended his Olympic year on a high note. Wearer of the number 10 shirt, the child from Douala followed in the footsteps of Pelé, Platini, Del Piero and Zico, who all gave this number an illustrious history. He also gave Cameroonian football another hero in addition to its already famous player Roger Milla.