Rigobert Song

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Rigobert Song
Rigobert Song 2008.jpg
Song with Cameroon in 2008
Personal information
Full name Rigobert Song Bahanag
Date of birth (1976-07-01) 1 July 1976 (age 38)
Place of birth Nkenglicock, Cameroon
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1994–1998 Metz 123 (3)
1998–1999 Salernitana 4 (1)
1999–2000 Liverpool 33 (0)
2000–2002 West Ham United 24 (0)
2001–2002 1. FC Köln (loan) 16 (0)
2002–2004 Lens 63 (3)
2004–2008 Galatasaray 108 (4)
2008–2010 Trabzonspor 46 (0)
Total 417 (11)
National team
1993–2010 Cameroon 137 (5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 8 May 2010.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 08:02, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Rigobert Song Bahanag (born 1 July 1976)[2] is a former Cameroonian footballer, who is currently a pundit for TV channel Orange Sports. He was a member of the Cameroon national team between 1993 and 2010.

He was born in Nkenglicock, Cameroon.

Known for his defensive skills, Song usually plays as a centre back but can also operate at right back. Internationally, he has played at a record eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and served as captain in five (the only ones he was not captain for were South Africa 1996, Burkina Faso 1998 and Angola 2010), a record, and holds the record of most consecutive games played in the tournament with 35 first team games. He has won two CAF Africa Cup of Nations titles in 2000 and 2002. In 2009, Song was dropped as Cameroon skipper by new coach Paul Le Guen, who eventually appointed Samuel Eto'o as the new captain but later caused concerns as Rigobert song had never been on the bench in more than 11 years for Cameroon.[3] With 137 appearances, Song also holds the record of the most capped player in the history of the Cameroon national team and has played in four World Cups, in 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2010.[4]

Song started his professional career with Metz and helped the club to win the French League Cup back in 1996. After appearing at the 1998 World Cup he joined Salernitana which newly promoted to Serie A. In January 1999 he left Italy to start successive stints with Liverpool, West Ham United and Cologne but after failing to hold down a first-team place he returned to France to play for RC Lens. He stayed there until 2004 and moved on to Turkey, where he spent four years with Galatasaray, winning two Turkish League titles and the Turkish Cup. Song then signed a contract with Trabzonspor in 2008, where he won another Turkish Cup and stayed until 2010.

Along with Zinedine Zidane, Song is the only player to have been sent off in two different World Cups, once against Brazil in USA 94 and against Chile in France 98.[5] He also holds the record as youngest player ever to be sent off in a World Cup, aged 17.

Nicknamed "Big Chief" by the Turkish fans,[6] he is the cousin of fellow Cameroon defensive midfielder and West Ham United player Alex Song, although Alex refers to Rigobert as his uncle.

Club career[edit]

Early years (1993–1998)[edit]

Song started his professional career at Metz. He made several strong appearances that earned him a selection to The Indomitable Lions for the World Cup in 1994.

Liverpool (1998–2000)[edit]

Following his Italian experience with Serie A side Salernitana, Rigobert Song transferred at Anfield in January 1999 for £2.7 million.[7] Having been frozen out by the Italians, the Cameroonian defender made a good impression during a trial spell at Anfield. Before he arrived, Song already had the distinction of playing in two World Cup Finals for his country.

The first Cameroonian player to play for the Reds, Song made his League debut against Coventry City at Highfield Road. He early earned the support of Liverpool's fans, who appreciated his strength, all action style and effort. His natural position was centre half but during his time at Anfield, Song operated at right back and became a figure for Liverpool's fans, who used to affectionately sing "We've only got one Song"! He had a mixed 1999–2000 campaign, missing three months of the season due to international matches with the Indomitable Lions, captaining them to victory in the 2000 African Nations Cup and scoring the decisive penalty in the final game against Nigeria.

Earlier in the season Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier refused to release Song for the Olympics but Song as a loyal captain insisted; Cameroon eventually won the gold medal with him.

Song was not able to find a spot on the starting eleven in the 2000–2001 season and played just four games. His last appearance for Liverpool was a 1–1 draw with Sunderland at Anfield on 23 September 2000. He made a total of 38 appearances for the Reds. He left Anfield to sign for West Ham United on Tuesday, 28 November 2000, in a deal, which saw Liverpool capture young Finnish striker Daniel Sjolund.

West Ham, Köln and Lens (2000–2004)[edit]

Song signed for West Ham United for £2.5 million. The club identified the 24-year-old defender as a possible replacement for Rio Ferdinand, who was transferred to Leeds United for £18m.[8] In his first days, Song insisted that he did not want to be compared to Ferdinand, as he believed it was derogatory to his own talent.

Galatasaray (2004–2008)[edit]

Song then signed for Galatasaray in 2004. He became an instant fan favourite after his transfer to Galatasaray and formed a strong defensive partnership with Stjepan Tomas at the heart of defence.

During the 2006–07 season, he struggled to find a place in the team after an argument with then Galatasaray manager Eric Gerets during a league game. Although Song apologized for the incident both publicly and privately, Gerets did not take a back step and the player remained punished. With the arrival of new coach Karl-Heinz Feldkamp in the 2007/2008 season, Song once again become a vital member of the squad and new club captain . However upon his return from the African Cup of Nations with Cameroon National Football Team he found himself on the bench due to injury with the emergence of Emre Güngör who partnered Servet Çetin at the heart of the defence in Galatasaray's run for their 16th league title with Galatasaray.With a better offer Song decided to leave at the end of the 2007/08 season.

Trabzonspor (2008–2010)[edit]

Prior to joining Trabzonspor in 2008, Song played for Metz, Salernitana, Liverpool, West Ham, Cologne, RC Lens, and Galatasaray.

After a successful start to 2008–2009 season, Song became fan-favorite in Trabzon, played 28 games in Süper Lig without any yellow/red cards or goals. After Ersun Yanal resigned he lost his place in the starting lineup.[9] However, he became Trabzonspor's new captain on 1 December 2009 after Şenol Güneş taking place as manager.[10]

International career[edit]

Considered a key player for Cameroon for over a decade, Song played in the 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2010 World Cup.[11] He made his international debut on 22 September 1993, in a game against Mexico.

At only 17 years old, Song was given a surprise call-up to Henri Michel's Cameroon squad for the 1994 World Cup and played two games at the finals. The defender played in the group matches games against Sweden and Brazil. He received a red card in the match against Brazil, becoming the youngest player ever to be sent off in a World Cup, aged 17. Led by ageless striker Roger Milla, the Indomitable Lions were knocked out in the group stages. The 24 years and 42 days age gap between Milla (42 years and 35 days) and 17-year-old future captain Song (17 years and 358 days) became (and remains) the largest between two team-mates in World Cup history.[12]

The defender then participated at the 1998 World Cup. Led by Song, Patrick Mboma and 17-year old young striker Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon were eliminated in the group stage, following a draw with Austria (1–1), a loss to Italy (3–0) and another draw with Chile. After receiving a red card in the last game against La Roja,[13] Song broke another record as he became the first player ever to be sent off at two different World Cups. Zinedine Zidane, who was also sent off at this World Cup, has since achieved this feat as well. Zidane received his second red card in the final of the 2006 tournament.

Song was a part of the squads that won the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations. After winning the 23rd edition of the football championship of Africa, The Indomitable Lions featured in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but were again eliminated in the group stage, following a 1–1 draw with Ireland, a 1–0 win over Saudi Arabia and a 2–0 defeat to Germany.

Song playing for Cameroon in 2006.

Song's next tournament was the 2003 Confederations Cup. The Indomitable Lions qualified for the semifinals, after wins against Brazil (0–1) and Turkey (1–0) and a draw with the United States. The defender then led his team against Colombia in the knockout stage. In the 72nd minute of the game, Song's longtime friend, Marc-Vivien Foé, collapsed in the centre circle, with no other players near him. Foé died the same day due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary condition known to increase the risk of sudden death during physical exercise. Cameroon eventually won the game 1–0, but lost to France in the finals after extra time.

Although Cameroon did not manage to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals, the team participated in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations. In the tournament, Song became the most capped player in Cameroon history. After three wins over Angola (3–1), Togo (2–0) and Congo DR (2–0) in the group stage, the Indomitable Lions were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Côte d'Ivoire, following a 24-shot shoot-out in which Cameroon was defeated 12–11.

Rigobert Song was also part of the Cameroon squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. After a 4–2 loss to Egypt in the Group C opening match, the veteran defender led his team to wins against Zambia (5–1) and Sudan (3–0). In the first game against The Pharaohs, Song's nephew Alex made his international debut for Cameroon, joining Rigobert on the pitch at half time. The captain then carried the Indomitable Lions to the knockout stage, in which they defeated Tunisia (2–3) and Ghana (0–1) before being eliminated in the finals by Egypt 1–0. The only goal, made by Mohamed Aboutrika, came after a mistake by Song, who covered his face with his shirt during the opponent's celebration.[14]

On 31 May 2008, Song got the first goal for Cameroon after nine minutes of a 2–0 home win against Cape Verde. With this win, the Indomitable Lions took an early lead in Group 1 of the 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.[15]

In 2009 Song was dropped as captain of the Cameroonian national team, from the World Cup/ African Nations Cup qualifiers by new coach Paul le guen, but still remained the player that defined the image of the national team. Le Guen eventually appointed Samuel Eto'o as the new captain. On 12 August 2009, Cameroon's most-capped player was left out of the starting eleven for the first time in 10 years in a friendly game against Austria.[16] In 16 years with the national team, he has been to the African Nations cup, a record eight times (serving as Captain in five competitions excerpt in South Africa 1996, Burkina Faso in 1998 and Angola 2010).[17] Song holds the record of most consecutive games played in the African Nations Cup- with 35 first team games. Song won the nations cup twice in Nigeria 2000 and Mali 2002 and losing to Egypt in the finals of Ghana 2008. In 2010 Cameroon was featured in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, but failed to win the tournament. On 13 January 2010, the Lions lost in a 1–0 group-stage upset against Gabon but won a match against Zambia four days later with the score of 3–2. Despite being considered as an experienced player, some of Song's mistakes in the tournament were called "self-destructive": in the first game against Gabon, a defensive error by the veteran defender allowed Daniel Cousin's goal, and against Zambia in the second he headed a cross towards his own goal.[18][19] The team still qualified for the quarter finals with 4 points after a draw with Tunisia on 21 January, in which Song came in as a substitute. Two days later Cameroon was eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations, following a 3–1 loss (after extra time) to Egypt. In the match, Aurelien Chedjou was preferred to Song, ending the former captain's run of 36 successive Africa Cup of Nations matches (a total of 3201 minutes).[20] After such events, Song was relegated to the role of backup player for a string of games as Le Guen often preferred him younger players such as Sébastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.[21] In June 2011 Song transferred in Kosovo for 2-year contract in Kosovar superliga.

Although he had handed the captain's armband over to Samuel Eto'o, Song was still selected for the 2010 World Cup squad,[22] making him the only player to play in the 1994 and 2010 World Cup finals. He was also the most experienced player to be featured in South Africa 2010 with 136 caps for his National team.[23]

The veteran defender did not play in Cameroon's opening game of the 2010 World Cup against Japan in South Africa.[24] The Samurai Blue won the game with the score of 1–0, with a goal from Keisuke Honda.[25] After the match, Song and some senior players claimed that Cameroon's youngsters were not up to standard and asked coach Le Guen to reconsider his line for the next step against Denmark.[24][26] However, Song was also omitted in the next game with Denmark, which Cameroon lost 2–1. With the loss, they became the first team to be mathematically eliminated in the 2010 World Cup. The former captain was eventually featured in the last game against the Netherlands, his 4th World Cup participation. Song entered the match as a substitute for Nicolas N'Koulou in the 73rd minute of the second half.[27] The Indomitable Lions went out of the tournament with a 1–2 loss. Song retired from international duty on 1 August 2010 after 137 appearances.[28]

Outside of football[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Song's father, Paul Song, died when he was young. As such, he never really knew his father but nevertheless dedicates all his success to him, as his absence was a strong motivational force for him. Song is married to Esther Song, and has four children (two sons and two daughters): Ronny, Bryan, Yohanna Bernadette and Hillary Veronique Liliane. They currently live in Liverpool. Rigobert is also a national ambassador for Cameroon.[29]

His cousin Alex Song played as a defensive midfielder for clubs in France, England and Spain. Although many reports state that Rig is Alexandre's uncle, the former in an interview with www.mtnfootball.live stated that their fathers were brothers, thus making both players cousins.[30] Rigobert has mentored Alexandre as a father figure. About the relationship with Rigobert, Alexandre said: "I speak to him all the time and always call on him for advice. He's a good person to talk to because of his experience in England and I can ask him anything, depending on situations."[31]

Controversy[edit]

According to his 2008 biography, Carra, Song's former Liverpool teammate Jamie Carragher claimed he launched a deliberate hard tackle in a practice session against the Cameroonian player because of the latter's perceived mockery of Carragher's defending.[32] "Song walked on to the training pitch with a smile on his face. He was limping off it with a grimace an hour later. The first chance I got, I did him. Never have I hunted down a 50–50 tackle with greater appetite. 'You're not fucking laughing now, are you, you soft cunt?' I said as he hobbled away."[33]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 18 May 2010[34]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Metz 1994–95 24 2 - - - - - - 24 2
1995–96 37 0 - - - - - - 37 0
1996–97 34 0 - - - - - - 34 0
1997–98 28 1 - - - - - - 28 1
Total 123 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 123 3
Salernitana 1998–99 4 1 - - - - - - 4 1
Total 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
Liverpool 1998–1999 13 0 - - - - - - 13 0
1999-00 17 0 - - - - - - 17 0
2000–01 3 0 - - - - - - 3 0
Total 33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 33 0
West Ham United 2000–01 19 0 1 0 2 0 - - 22 0
2001–02 5 0 - - 1 0 - - 6 0
Total 24 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 28 0
Köln 2001–02 16 0 - - - - - - 16 0
Total 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 16 0
Lens 2002–03 35 3 - - - - 8 1 43 4
2003–04 28 0 - - - - 4 0 32 0
Total 63 3 0 0 0 0 12 1 75 4
Galatasaray 2004–05 32 2 - - - - - - 32 2
2005–06 29 1 - - - - 2 0 31 1
2006–07 25 1 - - - - 5 0 30 1
2007–08 22 0 - - - - 4 1 26 1
Total 108 4 0 0 0 0 11 1 119 5
Trabzonspor 2008–09 28 0 - - - - - - 28 0
2009–10 18 0 - - - - - - 18 0
Total 46 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 46 0
Career total 417 11 1 0 3 0 23 2 444 13

International goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 28 January 1998 Roumdé Adjia Stadium, Garoua, Cameroon  Angola 1–0 Win Friendly match
2 6 June 1999 Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaoundé, Cameroon  Eritrea 1–0 Win 2000 African Cup qualifying
3 6 June 2004 Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaoundé, Cameroon  Benin 2–1 Win 2006 World Cup qualifying
4 4 June 2005 Stade de l'Amitié, Cotonou, Benin  Benin 1–4 Win 2006 World Cup qualifying
5 31 May 2008 Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaoundé, Cameroon  Cape Verde 2–0 Win 2010 World Cup qualifying
Correct as of 2 September 2012[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ (French) [2]
  3. ^ "Cameroon hope to show claws". FIFA. 22 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  4. ^ "Tottenham's Sébastien Bassong named in Cameroon's preliminary line-up". The Guardian (London). 11 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  5. ^ "Golden oldies and thrilling comebacks". ESPN. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  6. ^ Brown, Oliver (20 November 2009). "Rigobert Song: Cameroon star player at World Cup 2010". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  7. ^ "Ged's £128m spending – in full!". The Guardian (London). 24 May 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  8. ^ "Song completes Hammers move". BBC Sport. 28 November 2000. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  9. ^ "Song eski günlerini arıyor". Mackolik.com. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2010.  (Turkish)
  10. ^ "Trabzon'un yeni kaptanı Song". Ntvmsnbc.com. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2010.  (Turkish)
  11. ^ "New low for Italy, long-playing Song". FIFA. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  12. ^ "Roger Milla: Indomitable Lionheart". ESPN. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  13. ^ http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/edition=1013/results/matches/match=8760/report.html
  14. ^ Vickers, Steve (10 February 2008). "Final and third place". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  15. ^ "Cameroon take Group 1 lead". BBC Sport. 31 May 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  16. ^ "Song left out of Cameroon team". BBC Sport. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  17. ^ "Cameroon omit defender Sébastien Bassong from squad". BBC Sport. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  18. ^ Roughley, Gregg (13 January 2010). "Africa Cup of Nations: Cameroon 0–1 Gabon – as it happened". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  19. ^ Wilson, Jonathan (25 January 2010). "Ahmed Hassan and Rigobert Song set for legacy-defining battle". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  20. ^ Steinberg, Jacob (25 January 2010). "Ahmed Hassan's controversial strike helps Egypt past sloppy Cameroon". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  21. ^ "Veterans out as Spurs pair return for Cameroon". ESPN. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  22. ^ "Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o named in World Cup squad despite threat to quit". The Guardian (London). 29 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  23. ^ "The squads in numbers". FIFA. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  24. ^ a b "Cameroon old-timers unhappy with kids". ESPN. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  25. ^ Murray, Scott (14 June 2010). "World Cup 2010: Japan v Cameroon – as it happened". Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  26. ^ "Pressure builds on Paul Le Guen as Cameroon prepare for Denmark". The Guardian (London). 19 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  27. ^ Glendenning, Barry (24 June 2010). "World Cup 2010: Cameroon v Holland – as it happened!". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  28. ^ "Cameroon great Rigobert Song quits internationals". BBC Sport. 1 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  29. ^ "Biography of Rigobert Song". African Success. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  30. ^ [3][dead link]
  31. ^ "Song sings uncle's praises". BBC Sport. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  32. ^ Man, Hatchet (3 September 2008). "HATCHET MAN: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher, as the Song went, is hardly a tough guy". Daily Mail (London). 
  33. ^ Carragher, Jamie. Carra: My Autobiography. Bantam Press, 2008. ISBN 0-593-06102-0
  34. ^ "Rigobert Song". National Football Teams. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  35. ^ RSSSF.com

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Turkey Egemen Korkmaz
Trabzonspor captain
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Guinea Ibrahim Yattara