He was the 38-year-old striker who everyone took to their hearts at Italia 90, and almost thirty years to the day when Roger Milla’s goals for Cameroon stunned the football world, it’s heartening to hear that he still retains a keen interest in seeing how certain players from his country are acquitting themselves at the highest level.
Man United are still interested in Ajax’s Andre Onana according to journalist Duncan Castles via the Transfer Window Podcast and cited by the Daily Express, but Milla is keen for the youngster to make the correct decision if he’s to move on from the Eredivisie outfit.
“He’s a very talented, young goalkeeper who still has his entire career ahead of him. I hope he will make the right choice for his future, that he will go to a club where he will play because we need him in great shape for the national team,” he told CaughtOffside in an exclusive interview.
Milla has kept himself busy since his time in the spotlight, but he still fondly recalls the moment he was asked to step up for Cameroon, and what came afterwards.
“President, Paul Biya, thought I was still good enough and that I could add something to our national team despite my age.
“When I learned that he wanted me to compete in the World Cup, I proudly honoured the call of my president. I can never thank him enough. Thanks to him, I made history.
“Cameroon wanted to go as far as possible. We were ambitious especially as the preparation went well in Yugoslavia.
“To be honest, I did not expect to play at this World Cup but as soon as our coach Nepomniachi saw me in training, he told me that he knew that I was technically ready but that I will only play at the end of matches because I was struggling a little physically.
“I had no pressure. I was trying to take advantage of every moment because I knew that it would be difficult for me to experience it again in view of my advanced age.
“I was just very happy because we won. For me, the most important thing was to win. There was personal satisfaction, of course, but the team’s victory was the most important thing to me.
“My best memories as a footballer are those that I had during the World Cups that I played. I savoured every moment. Many great players have never played a World Cup because they couldn’t qualify.”
What’s not as well remembered as Milla’s heroics in Italy, is his goal, as a 42-year-old, in the World Cup in USA 1994. It’s a record that’s unlikely to be beaten anytime soon.
“Of course, it was beyond my expectations. To score at this age is very difficult,” he added.
“I will be remembered for a long time for this record and personally I don’t think it will be broken anytime soon.
“It is for all these things that I thank President Biya. For allowing me to compete in these competitions when I was at the end of my career.”
With so many African players now making a mark in the Premier League, Milla was at pains to pick just one.
“Lots of African players have played in the Premier League, it’s hard to pick one in particular. Yaya Touré, Didier Drogba, Kanu, Adebayor or even Salah, Mane and Aubameyang more recently have also done very good things,” he concluded.