By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com – Cameroon
Legendary sports commentator Zachary Nkwo nicknamed him the ‘Southwest Maradona’, to many other fans of Mount Cameroon FC of Buea, he was simply ‘Vally goal’, Valentine Fondongbeze Atem lit up a golden era for Mount Cameroon FC of Buea.
After successfully gaining promotion to Cameroon’s top flight in their first attempt in 2000, club President Calvin Foinding was intent on establishing the Buea based club in the Cameroon top flight. To achieve that, he needed both quality management and players.
Reputed coach Jules Frederick Nyongha was the man handed the daunting task. A plethora of high profile players were brought in. Essono Mballa, Ndongo Mpessa, Oum, Nyangono and many others all joint the ambitious club.
Former Olympic of Muyuka and Victoria Shooting Stars wonder boy Valentine Atem also joint from Kumbo Strikers where he struggled to impose himself.
Although he did not hit the ground running, Atem soon became a fans favorite with his dribbling skills and goal scoring prowess.
Some breathtaking displays against Canon, Esperance of Guider and Stade of Bandjoun convinced all and sundry that Mount Cameroon FC finally had their frontline spearhead.
He did not just score crucial goals, but did so with flair and finesse, he even left it late at times which made it even sweeter and made him even more popular amongst the fans of the club.
He was later promoted to club captain and the new-skipper was instrumental for Mount Cameroon becoming the first club from the Southwest region to win the highly coveted Cup of Cameroon in 2002.
His sublime goals in the semifinals against Unisport of Bafang booked them a place in the final against Sable of Batie.
It was the club’s first and only appearance in the finals and they managed to beat Sable 2-1, thanks to goals from Ebenezer Ache and Elvis Mokake.
Coach Alain Wabo and his team hugely depended on the abilities of their able skipper on their way to a historic cup of Cameroon triumph.
With Atem, Mount Cameroon FC of Buea imposed themselves as an established top flight club in Cameroon.
His departure to Ghana in 2003 and later to Europe coincided with the club’s dwindling fortunes, as the team was later relegated to the national second tier in 2009 and later to the Southwest Regional Championship.
Valentine Atem is retired and resides in Buea today, in a city where a generation of Mount Cameroon FC fans Witnessed his remarkable feat. His name will forever be associated with greatest spell in the club’s history.
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