By ROBIN TOSKIN|Thursday, 13 May 2010|The Standard|
On June 14, 1990, the iconic former Cameroon star had the world under his feet at Stadio San Nicola, Bari, Italy when as a 58th minute substitute against Romania, Milla struck on 76 minutes and before dashing to the corner flag to do the jig that has since been replayed over and over across the globe. Ten minutes later, Milla went for the second bite of the cherry capped with the dance at the corner flag and although Romania struck in the 88th minute, Cameroon held on to win 2-1, their second straight win having beaten a Diego Maradona-led Argentina, 1-0 in the opening match.
And on Monday, Milla did not require a second invitation for a shakedown of his 57-year-old loins, which has since also charmed Coca Cola into making a TV commercial that will be played through out the World Cup duration.
He took the ball and confidently strode to the goal facing Nairobi’s Burma Market, dinked the ball into the net and raced to the corner flag overlooking Kaloleni, did the jig to an approving crowd mostly made up of Under-17 players taking part in the Copa Coca Cola National finals.
The applause from the youngsters, who had not been born when Milla captured the imagination of the world, also drew a radiant smile revealing the lion’s gap on the upper teeth.
Minutes before, the Cameroonian had showered praise on 15-yearold Jamhuri High School striker Harrison Mwendwa who orchestrated Nairobi’s 7-1 slaying of Eastern.
And typical of a lion watching on its cubs play with a helpless prey, Milla had been jerked out of his seat by a crisp chip by another 15-yearold Kevin Waweru of Jagiet Academy with Nairobi’s fifth goal.
“Kenya had a very good national team between 1970 and 1986. And watching these youngsters for only 25 minutes you only hope they get good coaching to return to where this country belongs,” Milla said.
On Africa’s chances at the World Cup, which kicks off on June 11 in Johannesburg, South Africa Milla declined to predict which Africa side that would go the farthest.
“They are all good sides but a lot is still needed in terms of preparation. The World Cup is no easy tournament, you need almost everything going for you.”
Coca Cola Senior Brand Manager Pamela Mutua, who accompanied the legend said : “Milla represents the best of what Africa can provide to the game of football. His celebratory dance has also inspired many to pursue their dreams football-wise.”
The former striker, who holds the record as the oldest player, at 42, to appear and score in a World Cup when he netted against Russia at USA 1994 in that 6-1 defeat, advised upcoming footballers to embrace healthy living and discipline.
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