Eric Djemba Djemba has joined Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren until the end of the season, hoping that regular football may improve his chances for a spot in Cameroon’s World Cup squad, the club announced on its website on Wednesday.
“He is a top drawer player who does a power of work in the defensive midfield area,” said St Mirren manager Danny Lennon. “He wants regular football to ensure he goes to the World Cup with Cameroon this summer and we are happy to give him that platform,” Lennon told the club’s website.
The 32-year-old midfielder has not been part of the Indomitable Lions set up for about two years but seemingly trusts in his capacity to bounce back. He will face stiff competition for the defensive midfield role where Cameroon has more than a dozen regular (and younger) contenders including Schalke’s Joel Matip, FC Barcelona’s Alex Song, among others.
A decade ago, Djemba Djemba was one of Cameroon’s promising talents rising from Kadji Sports Academy near Douala to FC Nantes in France where he was recruited by Manchester United in 2003. He was seen at the time as a potential replacement for then United captain Roy Keane but the Cameroonian failed to live up to expectation, making only 13 league starts in 35 appearances for Manchester United.
“I was not being [selected] in many games and it was difficult,” Djemba-Djemba said in a recent interview with The Guardian newspaper. “Roy Keane came back from injury, I wanted to play games and I had a talk with the gaffer (Alex Ferguson). He said: ‘No problem. If you have [another] team and you want to continue to play, that’s not a problem.'”
He opted for a transfer to Aston Villa as he opportunities for a starting place in the team dwindled. This was followed by a downward spiral that took him to Burnley, then to Qatar SC before a resurgence at Danish side Odense.
Before joining St. Mirren the one-time captain of Cameroon’s under-23 national team was at Partizan Belgrade. The Serbian club released him after he made just14 appearances since he joined last summer.
Djemba Djemba’s bid to convince Volker Finke, Cameroon’s German born trainer, may start if he plays for St. Mirren in Sunday’s Scottish Cup match against Dundee United.