By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com – Cameroon.
Name: Robert Ndip Tambe
Date of Birth: February 22, 1994
Place of birth : Limbe
Position: Centre Forward
Current Club: CFR Cluj
Previous Clubs: Njalla Quan Sports Academy, CINYODEV FA, LZS Piotrowka, Spartak Trnava, Adana Demirspor, CFR Cluj, Sheriff Tiraspol.
Honours: Slovakian League winner, Romanian League and Domestic Cup winner, Moldovan League winner and 2017 AFCON winner.
In a nutshell who is Robert Ndip Tambe?
I am a 25-year-old footballer from Limbe, born into a struggling family of 5 children, a father and husband determined and focused to make something out of my life to help myself and my family.
You came through the ranks of the Njalla Quan Sports Academy, how did you get there in the first place?
I joint the Academy at a very young age and progressed from the U-13s to the senior team. Everyone involved at the time believed and trusted in me. I also did everything I needed to do to succeed.
After your very successful beginnings with the Njalla Quan Sports Academy(NQSA) you must have been crowded by football agents trying to represent you…
Yes, but I trusted in God for the right choice. I kept my shoulders down and focused on football, trained like never before and gave almost a deaf ear to all what the managers were saying. When the right person came calling I knew it at once and we clicked.
Then you signed for CINYODEV FA…
Yes though I actually did not play an official game for them.
You left Cameroon to a fourth division team in Poland, why did you chose that path?
It’s never easy to leave Africa to a top European league or club, so I used Piotrowka as a platform to showcase what I was capable of doing.
I played for a monthly salary of 150€, but I was focused and scored 18 goals and 10 assists in 13 games. That attracted the interest of so many first division clubs in Poland.
So why did you not sign for any of them but rather went to Slovakia?
The then President of Piotrowka wanted to make a lot of money from me and he turned down almost every offer that came, asking for more. We had some issues and I had to spend six months without competitive football, just training, that’s when we received the call from Spartak Trnava.
Recount us your season with Spartak…
I joint them when the season had already gone past the first round, I had a slow start, but I believed in myself and the club also believed in me and I became the main man the next season. I scored 12 goals and was their top scorer.
From there to Adana Dermispor in the Turkish second tier…
I really wanted a new challenge, I had just six months left on my contract with Spartak with a very high buy-out clause and the club turned down a lot of offers that were made for me.
So when Adana came calling I even sacrificed part of my salary to finance the move to Turkey.
So what was your experience with Adana?
I experienced the most trying moments of my career at Adana. I kept my difficulties to myself and my close family and friends.
My love for the game kept me going and I knew where I came from and where I wanted to get to. I went for six months without any salary at a time that my wife just put to bed.
But I was mentally very strong and still managed 14 goals in the championship.
So how was the salary issue resolved ?
You know in the professional settings, they might delay but they will finally pay you, so I got the money after a few years.
From Turkey you moved to Romania and joint CFR Cluj, why Romania and Cluj?
I sat down with my manager, Valery Ndazeh, we weighed the possible options and decided together that Cluj was the appropriate move at the time.
What did Ndazeh tell you to justify that choice?
The possibility of playing the UEFA Champions League, the way the club was structured and the ambitions of the club. We did not take long to settle on the move to Cluj.
You went on to win the league and domestic cup with Cluj to vindicate your choice…
It was all great but I am focused on winning more because that’s why we play the beautiful game.
What were some of the difficulties you encountered especially as you kept moving from country to country?
Obviously there was the language and cultural barriers but I was fortunate to always have teammates who spoke either English or French in all the clubs I played for so the language problem was not really serious.
I am someone who always tries to keep my focus on football and my teammates and pay little or no attention on the rest. After my training sessions I go straight to the house so I don’t really have issues on how the people live in their country. I am naturally a very reserved person.
You seemed to be settled at Cluj why the loan move to Moldova?
I joint Cluj a little late, when the team had already done all the preparations for the season so I had to work extremely hard to be at the same level with the rest. Also under the coach at the time, Antonio Conceicao, I did not have enough playing time.
There was a possibility to join Sheriff Tiraspol on loan and I was particularly attracted by the fact that they were in the UEFA Europa League.
So did things go according to plan at Sheriff?
Yes, at the beginning with the first coach, but when Zoran Zukic was appointed I was no longer playing as regularly like I did before his appointment. But I can still say it has not been bad after all because I scored 17 goals in 30 games in competitions.
How can you describe your experience playing in the UEFA Europa League?
Great! Football at the highest level with best. Unfortunately we were eliminated early but that’s football, you win some you lose some.
What are your plans going forward?
I am going back to Cluj and will do everything to fight back for a first choice spot. My loan deal with Sheriff has ended so I am going back to my club and I want to assert myself and impose myself there.
Let’s talk about the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon…
I happened to be called up at a time that we had a coach [Hugo Broos] who did not look at your CV or name to play you. As long as you understood what he wanted and gave your all, you were going to play every game.
I worked hard and he believed in me.
How did you feel to be part of the 2017 AFCON team and then go to Gabon and lift the trophy?
I can’t describe the feeling, it was simply wonderful. I went there as third choice forward, but my hard work paid off and I ended up as first choice. God helps those who help themselves.
We believed in ourselves and worked hard to achieve what we achieved in Gabon.
What was the strength of that team that very few if anyone at all believed in?
We believed in ourselves, though no one gave us a chance, we were a real team, with the star of the team being the team. We were incredibly disciplined and we just wanted to get into the knockout stages and take it on from there.
A lot of people have questioned your presence in that team and even the fact that you were propelled to the first choice striker…
I did not select myself, neither did I play myself as first choice striker. It was strictly a choice made by the coach out of his convictions and what he saw on training everyday.
I don’t put my ears on such things by the way, I am just a happy and proud Cameroonian who helped his country to get to the top of the African football pyramid.
How were you received by your teammates in the national team and what is your relationship with them till date?
I was received with love, firstly thanks to my humility and simplicity, I led the prayer sessions everyday, there was great love in the team.
I still keep in touch with my teammates till date.
Do you still think of getting back into the team?
I don’t just think of getting back, I believe I will be back into the team.
What is your opinion about the current team of the Indomitable Lions?
The team is doing it’s best, but there is still room for improvement as has always been the case. We need a few new players and above all better management.
Which coaches have had the most influence on your career?
Francois Eya, Zacharie Etoundi and Nicolas Tonye, they always believed in me.
I cannot forget Hugo Broos. He believed in me from the first day he saw me.
What is your relationship with your childhood club, NQSA?
For now no serious relationship, after the demise of the founder, things have not been the same.
But it’s a club I will always respect and hold in a special place in my heart. They gave me the chance to become what I am today.
What has been the role of Valery Ndazeh in your career?
He is not just my manager he is a brother. We take every decision together, he guides me in my career and day-to-day life choices. Simply put he has a great role in my career and in my everyday life.
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