Mwepu Ilunga

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Mwepu Ilunga
Personal information
Full name Joseph Mwepu Ilunga
Date of birth (1949-08-22)22 August 1949
Place of birth Belgian Congo
Date of death 8 May 2015(2015-05-08) (aged 65)
Place of death Kinshasa, DR Congo
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
TP Mazembe
National team
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Joseph Mwepu Ilunga (22 August 1949 – 8 May 2015) was a football defender from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). His name is also written as Alunga Mwepu.

Club career[edit]

He played club football for Englebert TP Mazembe in his native Zaire,[1] with whom he won the 1967 African Cup of Champions and 1968 African Cup of Champions.[2]

International career[edit]

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.[3] He was subsequently cautioned, but some commentators felt that he seemed oblivious as to what he had done wrong.

However, Ilunga 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.[4] Zaire went on to lose that match 3–0.[5] 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.[6] "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".[7]


Ilunga died in May 2015 after a long illness[8] in the Saint-Joseph de Limete Hospital, Kinshasa.[2]


  1. ^ Zaïre's World Cup squad 1974 - Planet World Cup
  2. ^ a b Foot: l’ancien Léopard Joseph Ilunga Mwepu décédé à l’âge de 66 ans - Radio Okapi (in French)
  3. ^ Top 50 football moments at the Wayback Machine (archived December 11, 2006) (Accessed June 10, 2006)
  4. ^ "BBC Sport - Football - Zaire free-kick farce explained". BBC News. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  5. ^ Official FIFA match report (Accessed June 10, 2006)
  6. ^ BBC Sport - "1974: Zaire's show of shame" (Accessed June 10, 2006)
  7. ^ "Famosos por 15 minutos", FourFourTwo, número 3, janeiro de 2009, Editora Cádiz, págs. 62-65
  8. ^ "Former Zaire defender Mwepu Ilunga dies aged 66 after long illness". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 

External links[edit]