N'Kono training with Espanyol (GK coach)
|Date of birth||20 July 1956|
|Place of birth||Dizangue, Cameroon|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
After playing in his country with Canon Yaoundé and Tonnerre Yaoundé, N'Kono moved to Spain with RCD Español in 1982, after solid performances in the FIFA World Cup played in that country. He received the France Football African Footballer of the Year award in that year, and also in 1979.
With the Catalans, he hardly ever missed a game, going on to amass more than 300 official appearances. In 1988–89, however, he was not able to help prevent the club's La Liga relegation and, by the time it returned to the top division, he was already second-choice, to younger Vicente Biurrun.
N'Kono would play three more years in Spain, incidentally also in Catalonia, with CE Sabadell FC (second level) and CE L'Hospitalet; he retired already in his 40's, with Club Bolívar from Bolivia. He subsequently returned to his main club as a goalkeeping coach, helping develop young talent (and countryman) Carlos Kameni.
A Cameroonian international for almost two decades, N'Kono played in three World Cups: 1982, 1990 and 1994. In the first two, he was the undisputed starter, as the nation went out in the group stage without losing a match, and valliantly exited in the quarter-final against England, respectively.
In the very last minute of the 1994 edition's preparations, the 39-year-old was called as backup to Joseph-Antoine Bell, and did not play.
N'Kono, who was the national side's goalkeepers coach, also worked briefly as interim coach, after German Otto Pfister resigned in protest. The following month, as Paul Le Guen took the reins of the team, he was reset in his old post.
In 2002, N'Kono was arrested by riot police for allegedly using "black magic", prior to the African Cup of Nations semi-final against Mali (3–0 win). He was dragged onto the running track after stepping onto the pitch at the 26 March Stadium, alongside coach Winfried Schäfer, and eventually received a one-year ban, which was then lifted, although he was not allowed to sit on the bench for the final. There was speculation that an object found in his pocket was a black-magic charm aimed at helping Cameroon's cause.
Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon, also a goalkeeper, declared he decided to play in that position after seeing N'Kono's performances at the 1990 World Cup. In addition, he named his son Thomas in the Cameroonian's honour.
- Espanyol archives; Hall of Fame Perico, 21 May 2009 (Spanish)
- Kameni keeps Espanyol clean; BBC Sport, 27 December 2004
- "De la Peña anuncia el final de su carrera profesional" [De la Peña announces end of professional career] (in Spanish). El Mundo. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
- Nkono is Cameroon caretaker; BBC Sport, 2 June 2009
- Cameroun: Paul Le Guen garde Thomas Nkono comme entraîneur des gardiens (Cameroon: Paul Le Guen keeps Thomas Nkono as goalkeepers coach) (French)
- Nkono in 'black magic' claim; BBC Sport, 7 February 2002
- Nkono gets one-year ban; BBC Sport, 9 February 2002
- Nkono ban lifted; BBC Sport, 16 April 2002
- «Difficile de garder notre titre» («Hard to defend our title»); Sport24, 14 June 2010 (French)
- Stats at Liga de Fútbol Profesional (Spanish)
- BDFutbol profile
- Thomas N'Kono at National-Football-Teams.com
- Biography at CamLions (French)
- Worldfootball profile