In Brief

Lazio deny claims that teenage star Minala is actually 41

Italian club releases player's birth certificate after claims in African media

140214-minala.jpg

LAZIO have threatened legal action against anyone who questions the age of their 17-year-old Cameroonian midfielder Joseph Minala, after claims from African media that he is, in fact, a 41-year-old man.

The Italian Serie A club have released the player's birth certificate and issued a statement accusing those behind the reports of trying to "throw sinister light on the work of the club".

However, Senego.net in Senegal is standing by its story and claimed to have spoken to "childhood friends" of the player who have testified to his advanced years, although its most recent report puts his age at a relatively youthful 37.

The player, whose documents show he was born in August 1996, also issued a statement insisting that reports stating he had confessed his real age were not true. He said the claims against him had been made by "people who do not know".

The issue blew up after pictures of a haggard-looking Minala began circulating on the internet, prompting many commenters to question his age.

However, Italian journalist Max Evangelista, who reports on the Lazio youth team, told the BBC that any suggestions the player was in his 40s were "unbelievable".

"He is a very reactive player. You could never say he is 41," he told BBC World Service. "When you are surrounded by players running like devils around you... it is very tough to be 41."

Evangelista accepted the Minala did not have the face of an average 17-year-old, but explained that the teenager's poverty-stricken background in Cameroon explained his looks. "He was in an orphanage for a couple of years in Cameroon, then he had to face the situation here by himself. On his face there is sign of his previous life, which was not a happy life. That is it. Period. There is nothing else that makes you think he is 41."

Questions about the age of youth players are not new, but they rarely involve a 20-year gap. In 2010 Arsenal were forced to deny claims that Bolivian midfielder Samuel Galindo had lied about his age after claims that the player was actually 20 rather than 17 and in 2009 Nigeria dropped 15 players from its squad of 36 before the Under 17 World Cup after they failed age tests.

Recommended

The most expensive divorces in the world
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall
Why we’re talking about . . .

The most expensive divorces in the world

Maradona and the ‘simple homicide’ trial
Diego Maradona pictured in 2019
Why we’re talking about . . .

Maradona and the ‘simple homicide’ trial

What has Serena Williams been doing?
Serena Williams
Profile

What has Serena Williams been doing?

Mick Lynch: the veteran trade unionist leading rail walkouts
Mick Lynch
Profile

Mick Lynch: the veteran trade unionist leading rail walkouts

Popular articles

The Mediterranean cities preparing for a tsunami
A tsunami in 2011 in Japan
Fact file

The Mediterranean cities preparing for a tsunami

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande film review
Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
In Review

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande film review

The Week Footer Banner