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Cameroon’s Carlos Kameni – The Most Underrated Goalkeeper in LaLiga

Probably one of the most underrated goal keepers in LaLiga; Carlos Kameni, the African with the most LaLiga appearances has saved penalties of some of the football greats from Ronaldo, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo. He is also the goalkeeper who has conceded the fewest goals against FC Barcelona in the last two seasons in LaLiga. His most recent heroics against the Catalans resulted into a goalless draw, the save in stoppage time especially, standing out. For the first time in 32 Camp Nou matches, Barcelona failed to score. The first time, in fact, since Kameni last kept a clean sheet against them.  – A feat that some teams have failed to equal in a 12-year period.

Early life:

Kameni was born on February 18, 1984 in Douala. At the age of just 16, he became the youngest footballer to win an Olympic gold medal. He then went from the Kadji Sports Academy to Le Havre in France but never managed to get any playing time during the four seasons he stayed there.  Things didn’t get better when he was loaned to Saint-Etienne for the 02/03 season.

The Cameroonian international then accepted RCD Espanyol’s offer after his move to the premiership’s Wolverhampton Wanderers  failed due to permit issues.
After arriving at Espanyol, things went much better for Kameni who filled out physically and started having great performances with the B-side. So much so, that he became the starter the following season, at just 20 years old.
Breaking records.

Kameni played more than 200 games for Espanyol helping them win the 2006 Copa del Rey and reaching the UEFA Cup final. His heroics earned him the award of the best African Goalkeeper of 2006/07.

During the 2008/09 campaign, he broke countryman’s Thomas N’Kono record of minutes without conceding a goal, at 497.

On January 13 2012, the shot-stopper moved to Málaga CF  from Espanyol, bringing to an end a seven –and- a- half year spell at the Blanquiazul club. The statement on the Espanyol website read:[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “Espanyol and Kameni have reached an agreement to rescind the Cameroon goalkeeper’s contract.”[/perfectpullquote]

During the 2015/16 season, he kept 11 clean sheets in 39 appearances his most remarkable performance being the goalless draw against Real Madrid on September 26 where he thwarted all the best efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates to score with outstanding saves and was duly awarded the man of the match prize.

Kameni has so far made 36 saves, kept 2 clean sheets in 13 games for Malaga in the recent campaign.

The big question:

One therefore would ask themselves, why is the goalkeeper that is incredibly athletic, has technical prowess, is commended for his ability to make split second decisions during a game and outstanding at one-on-one confrontations with strikers, not playing for any of the “big clubs?”

Kameni has been linked with Tottenham in the past and Juande Ramos almost took him there in 2008. Spurs were interested again in 2011, as were Fulham, Cardiff City in 2013.  Watford took a look when Quique Sanchez Flores was still at the club but somehow, nothing ever came of it.

The Cameroonian international has a strong personality and is a vocal figure in the dressing room.  To many goalkeeping scouts and managers, such traits are seen as an obstacle rather than a building block.  It is actually the major reason why Kameni fell out with Mauricio Pochettino at Espanyol who benched Kameni for half a season; picking his Argentine compatriot Cristian Dario Alvarez.

Kameni has also fallen out with the Cameroon National team manager; Broos. According to, Broos wanted Kameni to replace young goalkeeper Andre Onana only for Kameni to refuse and the manager insisted that he would never again call-up the Spain-based stopper.

With Cameroon heading to the Africa Cup of Nations in January next year, maybe there is still hope that Kameni could return to add to his 72 caps.


Featured Photo: Carlos Kameni(Courtesy of AFP)

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