Before the likes of Lauren, Geremi and um, Eric Djemba-Djemba came to the Premiership and gave Cameroonians a good name (well not the latter), there was another defender that became a bit of a hit at Liverpool, as well as playing for West Ham. This defender is the most capped player for Cameroon and is the cousin of current Arsenal star Alex Song. What happened to Rigobert Song?
Song joined Liverpool in 1998 after impressing with French side Metz and in Italy with Salernitana. The defender spent two years at Anfield, becoming the first Cameroonian to play for the club, and was a hit for Liverpool because he always gave 110 per cent and his all-action displays. Song mainly operated at right back in his spell with the club, and will be fondly remembered on Merseyside as a player who gave his all and always played with a smile on his face.
Although, Jamie Carragher doesn’t have as fond memories of Song, stating in his book that Song was mocking him in training when Carragher first got into the England squad. According to the Mirror, Song was laughing at the defender and speaking about him in French. Apparently, Carragher then nailed Song in a 50-50 tackle in training, standing over the Cameroonian and saying: “You’re not f*****g laughing now are you, you soft t**t”. What a nice example of the camaraderie between footballers.
A move to West Ham followed for Song in 2000, but the defender could not establish himself in the side and spent two years at Upton Park before spells in Germany with FC Koln, in France with Lens and in Turkey with Galatasaray. Song was a hit in Turkey but a public fall out with then-boss Eric Gerets marred his time with the Istanbul outfit. Song regained his place in the team when a new manager took over but fell out of love playing for Galatasaray and was transferred to Trabzonspor in 2008.
Song was a fan favourite at Trabzonspor last season, playing in 28 games. This season, first-team opportunities have been harder to come by, with Song only playing in 12 games for the Turkish outfit.
Internationally, Song is Cameroon’s most capped player with 133 appearances for his country. The defender has played in three World Cups and holds the dubious honour (along with Zinedine Zidane) of being sent off in two different World Cup’s. Now 33, Song represented Cameroon in this year’s African Cup of Nations, but had a disastrous tournament: It was his miscontrol that allowed Daniel Cousin to score Gabon’s winner in the opening game. Against Zambia in the second, he mystifyingly headed a cross towards his own goal. Cameroon’s goalkeeper, Carlos Kameni, made a smart reflex save, only for Jacob Mulenga to tap in the rebound.
But it’s these sort of mistakes that have defined Song’s career. He may have a wealth of experience but he has always been erratic. He may be courageous and combative, but Song is just as likely to score in his own net as he is the opposition’s. And now, as he reaches the twilight of his career, it’s something that doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.
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