Alex Song

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Alex Song
2012 2013 - 25 Alex Song.jpg
Song playing for Barcelona in 2012
Personal information
Full name Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong[1]
Date of birth (1987-09-09) 9 September 1987 (age 26)[2]
Place of birth Douala, Cameroon
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)[3]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current club Barcelona
Number 17
Youth career
2001–2004 Bastia
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2006 Bastia 32 (0)
2005–2006 Arsenal (loan) 5 (0)
2006–2012 Arsenal 138 (7)
2007 Charlton Athletic (loan) 12 (0)
2012– Barcelona 37 (1)
National team
2002–2003 France U16 6 (0)
2003–2004 Cameroon U17 3 (0)
2008 Cameroon U23 3 (0)
2005– Cameroon 39 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:10, 20 April 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 02:11, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong (born 9 September 1987), better known as Alex Song, is a Cameroonian footballer who plays for FC Barcelona in La Liga and the Cameroon national team. He plays as a central or defensive midfielder, and can also play as a central defender.

He is the nephew of former footballer Rigobert Song.[4]

Originally a utility player on the fringes of the first team, Song quickly became an integral part of Arsenal's starting eleven during the preseason to the 2008–09 campaign. He played for Cameroon in 2010 FIFA World Cup.[5][6] Song was called up for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and was the only Cameroonian named in the Team of the Tournament. Known for his colourful hair dye, Song also possesses a French passport.[2]

Background[edit]

Song was born in Douala, Cameroon and lost his father at the age of three. Since then, his uncle Rigobert Song has been like a second father and was a major influence in choosing football as a career. Unable to find a club or academy where he could hone his skills, Petit Song, as he is known in the Cameroon side, opted to move to France, joining SC Bastia at the age of 16.[5] One of the players who inspired Song the most when he was young was Michael Essien.[7]

Song wanted to give his children a good upbringing in life, which he claims eluded him; he married at the age of 18 and is now father to two children, the older being two-year-old Nolan.[8] Song is one of 28 children in his family; he has 17 sisters and 10 brothers.[9]

In 2011, Song became an ambassador for Grassroot Soccer, an international non-profit organisation working through football to stop the spread of HIV.[10]

Club career[edit]

Bastia[edit]

Song joined the Bastia youth team in 2003–04 and became a part of the first team the following season with 31 appearances. Bastia were playing in French Ligue 1 during the time Alex Song had a stint there. Song was noted for his high versatility[11]

While playing for Bastia, he was selected as a part of France U16 football team. He later chose to represent Cameroon his country of birth. He played as a centre back but later made several appearances as a defensive midfielder. He was highly regarded in this position by numerous coaches and supporters of Bastia. During his time at Bastia, he attracted attention from numerous clubs, including Inter, Juventus, Manchester United, Lyon, and Middlesbrough.[12] Unwilling to sell their prized asset, Bastia agreed to loan him to the Gunners for one season only in 2005.[5] Despite being linked heavily with Lyon, he was sold to Arsenal for £1,000,000.[12][13] During his time at Bastia, Song made a total of 32 league appearances.

Arsenal[edit]

Song impressed Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger as a trialist during Arsenal's pre-season training camp in Austria, and Arsenal secured his services on loan for the 2005–06 season on 11 August 2005.[14] Arsenal agreed to a £1 million fee[15] in June 2006 and signed him to a four-year contract. Song made his Premiership debut during Arsenal's 2–0 win against Everton on 19 September 2005 as a substitute.[16] He played in several UEFA Champions League matches and made several Premiership starts near the end of the season, when first team players were injured or being rested.

He scored his first goal for Arsenal against Liverpool in Arsenal's 6–3 win at Anfield in the League Cup on 9 January 2007.[17]

On 30 January 2007, it was confirmed that Charlton Athletic had signed Song on loan until the end of the 2006–07 season.[18] Although he impressed, Charlton were relegated and Song returned to Arsenal.

Over the 2007–08 season, Song started at centre back for Arsenal's Carling Cup matches, but missed their semi-final elimination by Tottenham while away with Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations. He also started at centre back in Premier League ties towards the end of the season, most notably in Arsenal's crucial visit to Old Trafford against Manchester United, while regular starter Kolo Touré filled in for Bacary Sagna at right back.

Song playing for Arsenal in 2009

2008–09 season[edit]

The 2008–09 was Song's breakthrough season. The then 21-year-old established himself as a key member of Arsène Wenger’s squad, making 48 appearances in all competitions. He enjoyed his most productive and eye-catching campaign yet as he emerged as a genuine midfield enforcer – the perfect foil for Cesc Fàbregas in the Arsenal engine room. Wenger said: "I brought him here aged 17 and worked very hard with him, we worked hard because I felt he had the talent to become a good player. I know that the opinions are changing about him now."

On 21 October 2008, Song scored his first goal in European competition for Arsenal against Fenerbahçe in the Champions League.[19] Song's first league goal, and third in all competitions for the Gunners, was scored against Wigan Athletic on 11 April 2009 in which he took on several players and then coolly finished in the bottom corner. Arsenal won the match 4–1.[20]

2009–10 season[edit]

Song began the season well, playing in all but one of Arsenal's first 12 league games. He was voted third in the Arsenal.com player of the month award for October, behind winner Cesc Fàbregas and runner-up Robin van Persie. After putting in consistently commanding performances at the heart of midfield, allowing Arsenal's creative attackers to operate effectively, Song established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet. On 25 November 2009, Song signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal, lasting until 2014. On 30 December 2009, he scored his second goal in the league for Arsenal when he completed the scoring in a 4–1 win over Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

2010–11 season[edit]

Song with Mario Balotelli in 2012.

Song continued to be one of the first names on the team sheet, as he made a superb start to the 2010–11 season, establishing himself in front of the back four. He scored the 1000th Arsenal Premier League goal under Arsène Wenger in a 4–1 win against Bolton Wanderers on 11 September 2010. On the downside, the following game he was sent off for two bookable offences. The strong midfielder has become a more adventurous element in the Arsenal midfield, helping the forward line with his movement. On 28 August 2010, Song completed the full 90 minutes in the game against Blackburn Rovers in a 2–1 win at Ewood Park. On 19 October 2010, he scored the first goal of the match for Arsenal against the Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in a 5–1 win for Arsenal. On 24 October 2010, Song scored his third goal of the season, the second goal at Eastlands against Manchester City in a 3–0 Arsenal victory. On 30 October 2010, he scored a vital 88th minute diving header for Arsenal from a cross by Gaël Clichy at the Emirates Stadium against West Ham United in the league, leading to an important 1–0 victory for Arsenal.[21] In February 2011, Song had his car impounded by Hertfordshire Police after he was caught speeding and failed to provide relevant documentation.[22] On 27 December 2010, Song scored the first goal in a 3–1 victory over Chelsea at the Emirates.[23] During the 2010–11 season, he made 42 appearances in total, scored five goals and contributed three assists in all competitions for the Gunners.[24]

2011–12 season[edit]

With the departure of Cesc Fàbregas to Barcelona, Song was now assigned to provide the assists for the club alongside Aaron Ramsey. During a league match at Newcastle United, Song stamped on Joey Barton, and this resulted in him being charged with improper conduct and given a three-match ban. On 24 September 2011, Song scored his first goal of the season in a 3–0 home victory against Bolton Wanderers. He provided an assist to Robin van Persie following an impressive dribble for the first goal in a UEFA Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund on 23 November to secure a place for Arsenal in the last 16. Wenger said in November:

"I thought about that Fulham game recently, It shows that players need to be given time and confidence. Unfortunately at the big clubs you cannot always do it. He is one of the players who surprised everybody. You wouldn't expect what he delivers at the moment."[25]

Song again assisted van Persie who scored a volley, during a match against Everton which also proved to be the only goal as the 125th anniversary game ended 1–0 to Arsenal. Song also showed his assisting skills in the following matches: in an FA Cup match against Leeds United, Song played a wonderful through ball past four Leeds players to the returning legend, Thierry Henry. The game ended 1–0, sending Arsenal into the fourth round of the FA Cup. He then provided two assists in back to back matches against Tottenham Hotspur at home for Theo Walcott and also the winning goal for van Persie against Liverpool at Anfield with a delightful long-ball in the dying minutes of the match. The matches ended in 5–2 and 2–1 victories respectively, highlighting the importance of Song's presence in the team not only as an anchorman in the middle but as a playmaking midfielder. Song played a wonderful overhead pass to Theo Walcott and claimed an assist against Aston Villa on 24 March 2012. Arsenal went on to win the game 3–0. His partnership with striker Robin van Persie was enhanced in a match on 5 May 2012 as he performed his seemingly trademark chip to assist the Dutchman in netting the equaliser against Norwich City. The game ended 3–3 and it was his 12th assist of the season. He was voted in second place as the Arsenal player of the season by the fans.[26]

Barcelona[edit]

On 20 August 2012, Song signed a five-year contract with FC Barcelona for a fee of £15m.[27] He made his Barcelona debut against Real Madrid in the 2012 Supercopa de España on 29 August 2012 as a substitute for the last 15 minutes, finishing the match with a perfect passing statistic.[28]

International career[edit]

Song during match Cameroon vs Morocco (2009)

Song was first capped by Cameroon in 2005.[27] He was named in the Cameroon squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. He played for Cameroon in their first group match, a 4–2 defeat against holders Egypt; he replaced Stéphane Mbia at half time, joining his cousin Rigobert on the pitch. For the duration of the tournament he was a revelation in defence for Cameroon, earning a Man of the Match award in Cameroon's semi final, but then going off injured in the final against Egypt. He was nonetheless named in the Tournament Best XI, alongside Newcastle midfielder and compatriot Geremi.

Song was called up for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and was the only Cameroonian named in the Team of the Tournament.[29]

Song was included in the Cameroonian squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He did not appear in his side's opening loss to Japan,[30] but played the full 90 in Cameroon's disappointing 2–1 loss to Denmark.[31] The result ensured that Les Lions were the first country eliminated from the World Cup.[32] He was an unused substitute in Cameroon's final group stage match against the Netherlands, a 2–1 loss, but his cousin Rigobert made his final national team appearance in the match.[33]

Style of play[edit]

He has been described by former Cameroon coach Javier Clemente as a "much better player in attack than he is defensively."[34]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 20 April 2014[35]
League Club Season League Cup* Europe Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Ligue 1 Bastia 2004–05 32 0 0 3 0 0 35 0 0
France Total 32 0 0 3 0 0 35 0 0
Premier League Arsenal 2005–06 5 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 9 0 0
2006–07 2 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 0 6 1 0
Charlton Athletic (loan) 2006–07 12 0 1 0 0 0 12 0 1
Arsenal 2007–08 9 0 0 3 0 1 3 0 0 15 0 1
2008–09 31 1 1 6 0 2 11 1 0 48 2 3
2009–10 26 1 1 2 0 0 10 0 1 38 1 2
2010–11 31 4 2 6 0 0 5 1 2 42 5 4
2011–12 34 1 11 3 0 1 9 0 2 46 1 14
England Total 150 7 16 25 1 4 42 2 5 217 10 25
La Liga Barcelona 2012–13 20 1 0 6 0 0 8 0 0 34 1 0
2013–14 17 0 0 8 0 1 4 0 0 29 0 1
Spain Total 37 1 0 14 0 1 12 0 0 63 1 1
Career total 219 8 16 42 1 5 54 2 5 315 11 26

(* FA Cup, League Cup and FA Community Shield)

International[edit]

As of match played 10 June 2012[27]
National team Year Apps Goals
Cameroon 2005 1 0
2006 0 0
2007 0 0
2008 11 0
2009 3 0
2010 9 0
2011 5 0
2012 7 0
Total 36 0

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Arsenal
Barcelona

International[edit]

Cameroon U17
Cameroon

Individual[edit]

  • Africa Cup of Nations Best XI: 2008, 2010

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Statistics" (PDF). Laliga League. Retrieved 10 January 2010. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Song (Alexandre Song Billong) - Charlton Athletic and Cameroon". FootballDatabase. Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Player Profile: Alex Song". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Barlow, Matt (17 April 2009). "Arsenal star Song so happy to sing the praises of family values". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c 2010 FIFA World Cup™ – Alexandre SONG. FIFA.
  6. ^ Alex Song Bio, Stats, News – Football / Soccer – - ESPNFC. Soccernet.espn.go.com (9 September 1987).
  7. ^ Song: Essien inspired me to succeed 13 January 2011 – 10:46. Sport.co.uk (13 January 2011).
  8. ^ Barlow, Matt (17 April 2009). "Arsenal star Song so happy to sing the praises of family values". Daily Mail (London). 
  9. ^ Family is Everything to Song 06 January 2009 - 23:00. Mirrorfootball.co.uk (06 January 2009) .
  10. ^ Grassroot Soccer. Grassroot Soccer (5 May 2011).
  11. ^ Liberation of Alex Song. FootballFanCast.com.
  12. ^ a b "Alex Song". Sky Sports. Retrieved 10 August 2006. [dead link]
  13. ^ http://www.goal.com/en/people/cameroon/5927/alexandre-song-bilong
  14. ^ "Arsenal take Song on season loan". BBC Sport. 11 August 2005. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Fifield, Dominic (9 December 2006). "Academies are not working and need big change, says Benítez". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  16. ^ "Arsenal 2–0 Everton". BBC News. 19 September 2005. 
  17. ^ Lyon, Sam (9 January 2007). "Liverpool 3–6 Arsenal". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  18. ^ "Arsenal's Song in Charlton move". BBC Sport. 30 January 2007. 
  19. ^ Ornstein, David (21 October 2008). "Fenerbahce 2–5 Arsenal". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  20. ^ Ashenden, Mark (11 April 2009). "Wigan 1–4 Arsenal". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 August 2009. 
  21. ^ Ornstein, David (30 September 2010). "Arsenal 1–0 West Ham". London: BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  22. ^ "Police seize speeding Arsenal footballer Alex Song's car". London: BBC News. 23 February 2011. Archived from the original on 24 February 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  23. ^ McNulty, Phil (27 December 2010). "Arsenal 3–1 Chelsea". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  24. ^ "Alex Song". YouTube. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Player of the Season – in second place...". 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  26. ^ "Player of the Season – in second place...". 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c "Alexandre Song signs his new contract with FC Barcelona". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  28. ^ "Error-free start for Alex Song.". FC Barcelona. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  29. ^ CAF Releases top 11 of Orange CAN – 2010 – CAF. Cafonline.com.
  30. ^ Japan 1:0 (1:0) Cameroon – The matches of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA.
  31. ^ Cameroon 1:2 (1:1) Denmark – The matches of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA.
  32. ^ "Cameroon 1-2 Denmark". BBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  33. ^ Cameroon 1:2 (0:1) Netherlands – The matches of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA.
  34. ^ Song is unlike any other player, says Clemente Goal.com
  35. ^ "Alex Song". Arsenal F.C. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  36. ^ "Song won U-17 African Championships". 

External links[edit]