ITALY- Joseph Minala, after a decade with Lazio, has departed Italy for another European country. He first gained online notoriety in 2014 when a viral photo of the young Lazio player raised questions about his age, as he appeared older than his stated 17 years. An investigation was even initiated after claims on an African football website suggested he was 42 years old.
During his time at the Stadio Olimpico from 2014 to 2021, Minala played for Lazio’s senior team only four times. Instead, he spent the majority of his career on loan at various Italian clubs, including notable spells at Salernitana and Bari, before briefly joining Qingdao Huanghai in the Chinese Super League in 2020.
The Cameroonian native recently signed with Olbia Calcio 1905 in Serie C last summer, located in Northeastern Sardinia. However, he moved to FK Liepaja to play in Latvia’s top division after his one-year contract was mutually terminated at the start of the year.
Minala, now 26 years old, was on the bench as Liepaja won 6-2 against Super Nova, elevating them to third place in the Latvian Higher League. If the age-related claims against him in the past were accurate, he would be approximately 52 years old now. Regardless, it’s commendable for him to be on a professional team at any age.
It’s worth noting that Minala’s claim to youth is challenged by the existence of Japanese superstar Kazuyoshi Miura, who, at 56, is the oldest player still competing at the highest level. Miura, the sole survivor of FIFA 96, is in his 36th year of professional competition and has played for around 15 clubs during that time. His most recent appearance was for Oliveirense, a Portuguese second-tier team, in their 4-1 victory over Academico Viseu, where he made his debut as the 89th substitution last week.