By Nji Nelson Chefor
Sports Writer, kick442.com Cameroon
Former Cameroon international goalkeeper, Jacques Celestin Songo’o is arguably the best and most successful goalkeeper that the national football team of Cameroon has ever had.
The 56-year-old won nine trophies for clubs and country in a 20 year old career that took him from Yaounde where he was already a star for Canon to La Corona where he ended it all in a short second spell.
The current goalkeeper coach of the indomitable lions of Cameroon spent the vast majority of his professional career in France and Spain, most notably with Deportivo La Coruña in Spain, appearing in more than 200 official games over the course of six seasons and winning the 1999/2000 La Liga.
Winning the La Liga alone is a huge feet for an African player let alone a goalkeeper. But that campaign Noureddine Naybet, Diego Tristán, manager Javier Irureta and the rest of the people in the “tiny” city of La Corona where lucky to have a Songo’o who had come back from the African cup of nations with the title for Cameroon.
Having spent five years on the books of Canon Yaounde where he won two domestic League titles and the cup of Cameroon, Songo’o left for Toulon, France in 1989 barely month after his second AFCON title win.
His move to Europe added his name on the list of African players on the old continent then.
Just a year into his time in Europe, he was drafted into the Cameroon World Cup squad for the 1990 wonderful world cup ride for Cameroon.
He was later part of the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World cup squad for Cameroon and stood between the sticks in the 1998 tournament.
His success in Europe began in France with Metz where he won the League Cup at the end of the 1995/1996 football season.
The Sackbayeme native later moved to Spain where he played for Deportivo La Coruña. There, he won the Spanish La Liga title at the end of the 1999/2000 season, the Spanish Super cup in 2000 and at the end of the 2000/2001 season, he was vice champion of Spain.
In all, he won three AFCON titles the indomitable lions of Cameroon. He contributed to the successes in 1984, 1988 and 2002 African Nations cup and was on the loosing side in the 1986 edition.
Individually, he won the Ricardo Zamora trophy.
On February 13th 2000, from a corner kick, Songo’o was supposed to have scored his first career goal, but it was disallowed in a 0#1 away loss against CD Numancia.
Though he didn’t play as many games as his talent represents, he remains a picture of what a successful keeper should be.
He retired in 2004 and was appointed as the goalkeeper coach of the indomitable lions of Cameroon. A position that he left in 2006, returning four years later as a replacement for Thomas N’Kono.
Songo’o was part of Paul Le Guen’s coaching staff at the 2010 world cup in South Africa.
He later guided the indomitable lions of Cameroon to a 3#0 victory over Poland as interim coach, the nation’s first win in ten games.
Songo’o returned for a third spell in the same capacity in September 2019, under coach Antonio Conceição.
Mentoring Andre Onana and Fabrice Ondoa have a befitting mentor guiding ahead of the 2021 AFCON tournament on home soil.
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