JACQUES CELESTINE SONGO'O

Date of Birth: 17 March, 1964
Nationality: Cameroon (international)
Period at Deportivo: 2003 - 2004 (and previously from 1996 until 2001)
Transfer: Free Transfer (2003 and 1996)
Clubs: Deportivo (2003-2004), Metz (2001-2003), Deportivo (1996-2001), Metz (1993-1996), Le Mans (1992-1993), Toulon (1989-1992), Canon Yaoundé
Sold: Free Transfer (2001, to Metz)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Position: Goalkeeper

In 1996 Czech goalkeeper Petr Kouba was supposed to be become the new number one of Deportivo after the departure of legendary Francisco Liaño. But instead a 32-year old African goalie, who came on a free transfer and was nicknamed ‘Eddie Murphy’, became the undisputed number one. His name was SONGO’O and with him as goalkeeper Deportivo won their first ever Liga title in 2000.

Until then his fame had come from his performances with Cameroon as he played more than fifty international matches for them and he was present in their squad during the World Cups of 1990 and 1994. In those years he was playing in France at relatively unknown clubs like Toulon, Le Mans and Metz. In 1996 he was voted to be the best African goalkeeper.

His departure to La Coruña in 1996 was part of a big clean-up that summer in Galician and surprisingly it was Songo’o who defended Deportivo’s goal on the first matchday of the season 1996/1997. Riazor witnessed a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid and the African goalie played thirty-seven Liga matches that season. His reflexes were impressive and his relaxed attitude made him even win the Zamora trophy that same season, the first won by a foreign goalkeeper. Deportivo finished third, returned into Europe and Kouba was relegated to the bench.

Songo’o was the number one of Deportivo between 1996 and 2000 and was part of the team becoming champions that year. The veteran Cameroon international goalkeeper even scored a goal at Numancia from of a corner kick with a header. But the referee didn’t believe what he saw, literally, and annulled the goal. Deportivo lost this match 1-0 and endangered their title chances.

In the summer of 2000 the club snatched Spanish international goalkeeper Francisco Molina away from relegated Atlético de Madrid and Songo’o lost his place to the expensive new signing. Nevertheless, he played another nine Liga matches that season and was part of the team finishing second. On 17 June, 2001 he was given a decent goodbye in Riazor with a 4-0 home win against Málaga as he defended Deportivo’s goal during the final ten minutes of that match.

After exactly 150 Liga matches at Deportivo in five seasons everybody assumed he had played his last match with the Galicians and moved on a free transfer to Metz. But surprisingly in the summer of 2003 he returned to the club to give cover to Molina and Munúa. Deportivo B goalkeeper Dani Mallo was loaned out to Elche that campaign and the club were searching for someone they could trust upon in emergency cases.

His charisma and goodwill were decisive for the return of this veteran. "I had an offer to stay with Metz but our plan was to come and live in La Coruña. Words cannot describe how I felt when I received a call from Deportivo", he claimed afterwards. Molina and Munúa divided the minutes that season. But aged forty he substituted Munúa during the final minutes of a 0-1 win at Racing de Santander and with it added another match to his curriculum. This time it was his final one.

One day we might hear again from Songo’o although it concerns his son Frank. He’s a promising Cameroon talent Depor let go and now has a youth contract with Barcelona.
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