Mwepu Ilunga

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Mwepu Ilunga
Personal information
Full name Joseph Mwepu Ilunga
Date of birth (1949-08-22) August 22, 1949 (age 65)
Place of birth Belgian Congo
Playing position defender

Joseph Mwepu Ilunga (born August 22, 1949) is a former football defender from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). His name is also written as Alunga Mwepu.


Ilunga played for his country, then called Zaire, during the 1974 FIFA World Cup, where he became famous for running out of his team's defensive wall and kicking away a Brazilian free kick in the group match between the two nations (the final match in Group 2) before the ball was in play.[1] He was subsequently cautioned, however, some commentators felt that he seemed oblivious as to what he had done wrong.

However, Ilunga has claimed that he was quite aware of the rules – as would be expected from an experienced player in a successful side – and was hoping to convince the referee to send him off. The intended red card would have been a protest against his country's authorities, who were alleged to be depriving the players of their rightful earnings.[2] Zaire went on to lose that match 3–0.[3] They also lost their first two matches to Scotland 2–0 and Yugoslavia 9–0.

Zaire were then the first sub-Saharan African team to qualify for the World Cup finals, however during the tournament the players discovered they would not be paid.[4] "Most of the Brazilian players and the crowd thought that it was all hilarious, amateur act. I just could scream 'you cursed!' for all them, because nobody there knew the pressure that we was living".[5]

He played club football for TP Mazembe in his native Zaire.[citation needed]


Joseph Ilunga Mwepu still lives in DR Congo with his wife Jeanne Ilunga.[6]


  1. ^ Top 50 football moments at the Wayback Machine (archived June 21, 2007) (Accessed June 10, 2006)[dead link]
  2. ^ "BBC Sport - Football - Zaire free-kick farce explained". BBC News. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  3. ^ Official FIFA match report (Accessed June 10, 2006)
  4. ^ BBC Sport - "1974: Zaire's show of shame" (Accessed June 10, 2006)
  5. ^ "Famosos por 15 minutos", FourFourTwo, número 3, janeiro de 2009, Editora Cádiz, págs. 62-65
  6. ^ Observer - "Total recall " (Accessed June 10, 2006)

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