Thursday 24 November 2022, 09:15

Geremi: Football is a sort of religion that brings people together

"It just brings joy and happiness. For me, being a footballer is the best job in the world"

We are living in uncertain times filled with conflicts and global crises.

The world is divided. The FIFA World Cup, through the power of football, will bring people together to cross borders, unite and celebrate together.

Football Unites the World will be a global movement to inspire, unite and develop through football. FIFA Legend Geremi Njitap knows the unifying power of football better than most, having inspired an entire nation to dream during his 14 years playing for Cameroon. With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ underway, he takes a trip down memory lane to recall a career filled with trophies and standout moments.

FIFA Legend Geremi of Cameroon poses for a portrait

The retired international racked up a long list of honours, including two CAF Africa Cup of Nations titles, Olympic gold and a pair of UEFA Champions League triumphs, but the World Cup occupies a unique and special place in his heart. Indeed, well before his own exploits for Cameroon, he was a starry-eyed fan when the Indomitable Lions pulled off exploit after exploit at Italy 1990. "I was 12 years old," says the former Real Madrid and Chelsea right-back. "That was the first time an African team had ever reached the quarter-finals. For us, it's such a great memory. We were young and, after every match, people were running around in the streets. It was unforgettable." Each game that summer also brought another chance to admire the skills of a player set to become a legend of African and world football. "At the time, everyone identified with Roger Milla and what he was doing," says Geremi, who won 118 caps with Cameroon. "When I started my career and I was going for trials with clubs, I told my team-mates, 'I'm Roger Milla's brother.' That shows you the impact of the World Cup and a player who takes part in it."

Twelve years later, the free-kick specialist got to experience it all first hand at Korea/Japan 2002, before returning to the World Cup spotlight at South Africa 2010. Cameroon were knocked out in the group stage on both occasions, but Geremi still looks back with fondness. "The World Cup is the biggest tournament on the planet. For me, it was a dream come true. If you're a footballer, your dream is to play in the best tournament. For a Cameroonian, for example, that starts with the Africa Cup of Nations. Then you want to win titles at club level. But when you reach the World Cup, that's the holy grail. "Football is a sort of religion that brings people together," he adds. "It just brings joy and happiness. For me, being a footballer is the best job in the world."