Joseph Minala feels as if the controversy surrounding his age sunk his career with Lazio, noting that then-coach Simone Inzaghi never gave him a chance.
The Cameroonian midfielder was picked up by the Biancocelesti in the summer of 2013 after scouts spotted him in the amateur Trofeo delle Regioni tournament. Controversy kicked off a few months later, when rumours coming from Africa suggested that he was in fact 41, and not 17.
The FIGC later confirmed that Minala was 17 at the time and that his birth certificates, which listed his date of birth as 24th August 1996, were accurate. Despite being cleared, the controversy followed him throughout his career.
I was very young and I couldn’t know or predict the resonance this would have. I’m convinced that the age story has always held back my career.
I’ve always been judged for an off-pitch affair and never for my performances, in my first year as a professional at Bari I made 19 appearances and scored four goals.
He touched on the limited chances he was given at Lazio despite his years of service.
Did I expect more? Definitely. Every time I went out on loan I always had good seasons, but I never had the same chances as others at Lazio.
I think the club has been conditioned by this age situation, even though I came to the first team in a strong Lazio side.
Finally, Minala felt that former coach Inzaghi failed to give him a real shot at impressing.
He didn’t give me the chances I deserved. As the first player he focused on in the youth academy, I expected a chance in the first team.
I was a bit disappointed, I saw that players of a lower level were given the chance and I was sent out on loan.
There were also teams that were interested, but then they pulled out because of the scandal about my age.