Karl Toko Ekambi has now officially joined Villarreal (or, as the good-bye note from Angers put it, the sous-marin jaune, which I rather enjoyed), and becomes the latest in a recent string of African internationals to wear the Villarreal shirt.
He will be, as far as I can tell, the second Cameroon international to play for Villarreal. The first was Cyrille Makanaky, who spent one season with us (1992-93) when we were in the Segunda. He was a member of Cameroon’s marvelous 1990 World Cup squad.
Makanaky is still remembered in Malaga, where he played for two years before joining the Submarine —to this day, “makanaky” is the local, colloquial term for a marijuana cigarette. I have heard conflicting stories as to why: one is that it had to do with his dreadlocks, primarily; the other, which has more of the ring of truth about it given his mediocre play for the boquerones, is that Cyrille was a great customer of the local ‘grass’ sellers around the Rosaleda. Regardless, everyone agrees that his one season in Villarreal which followed was largely anonymous—16 Segunda matches for a team that barely avoided relegation—and he drifted off in search of greener....pastures. (To Maccabi Tel Aviv, actually).
Moving on, in recent years we have had a number of players who have represented African countries internationally—Wakaso Mubarak (Ghana) never made much of an impression here but, Ike Uche (Nigeria), Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast) and of course Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo) certainly did. (And we have Alfred N’Diaye on our books now, though he spent last year on loan at Wolves).
But between Makanaky’s 1993 departure and Wakaso’s arrival in early 2011, I could only find one other African Submariner. (Note: I’m referring in all cases to nationality per FIFA, not necessarily country of birth—after all, Ekambi was born in Paris).
That player is Armando Sá, a member of our 2004-05 squad who played internationally for Mozambique. Here is a photo of him in action! Anyone remember him?
If I have forgotten anyone, please let me know. Records of our rosters are pretty sketchy before the late 1990’s!