Profiling Rigobert Song Bahanag – Coach of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon
Profiling Rigobert Song
Who is Song?
Rigobert Song Bahanag AKA Manyang is a Cameroonian former professional football player and current coach of the National team.
He was a member of the Cameroon national team between 1993 and 2010 when he officially retired.
Song was born on July 1, 1976.
Song arrived in Europe in 1994 for FC Metz, after the 1994 World Cup.
Song stayed there for four seasons, playing alongside players like Robert Pirès, Cyrille Pouget, Sylvain Kastendeuch, and Jacques Songo’o. With the club, he made it to the Semi-final of the Coupe de France and 8th in 1994-1995 then 4th in 1995-1996 with success in the Coupe de la Ligue, 5th in 1996-1997 and finally 2nd in 1997-1998 – quite a memorable season.
In 1998, he left Metz and France for Salerno in Italy for a season. Following his Italian experience with Serie A side Salernitana, Song transferred to Anfield with Liverpool in January 1999 for £2.7 million.
In 2002, Song signed for West Ham United for £2.5 million. The club identified the then 24-year-old defender as a possible replacement for Rio Ferdinand, who was transferred to Leeds United.
In 2002, he returned to RC Lens, where he found Joël Muller, with a contract covering four seasons.
In 2004 he left for Galatasaray. After four seasons in Istanbul, and two Turkish league titles, Song left for Trabzonspor, where he played with Daouda Jabi .
Trabzonspor became the last club of his professional career.
Rigobert Song has 137 selections for the national team of Cameroon and is thus the record holder for selections in his country.
He participated in 4 World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010). He is to date considered one of the youngest players to have participated in a World Cup, at the age of 17 years and 353 days, just like Samuel Eto’o at 17 years and 3 months in 1998. Song is also the only African player to have participated in eight African Nations Cups, with a total of 36 matches played.
Note that he is the only player, with Zinédine Zidane, to have been expelled in two different World Cups, and the youngest player sanctioned with a red at the World Cup – 1994 against Brazil when he was 17 years and 358 days old.
He announced his international retirement at a press conference in Yaoundé on August 1, 2010, after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
In late 2015, Song was reportedly close to becoming the manager of the Chad national team but an agreement was never reached between the two parties
In February 2016, Song was appointed as manager of the Cameroon A’ team, which is composed of players based in Cameroon.
On 3 October 2016, Song suffered a cerebral attack and was hospitalized in Cameroon. He was in a coma for two days after having had a stroke with doctors transferred him to a French hospital for further treatment.
Song returned to Cameroon in 217 and resumed coaching duties, ahead of the qualification stage of the 2018 African Nations Championship.
He led the team into the tournament, which saw Cameroon finish bottom of their group after two losses and a draw.
In April 2018, Song was one of 77 applicants for the vacant Cameroon national team job.
He assumed the role on a caretaker basis later in the year before the Belgian duo Clearance Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert were appointed for the tough job.
On 17 October 2018, FECAFOOT appointed him as the Coach of the Cameroon U-23 national football team for the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations campaign.
Song was appointed on February 28, 2022, as the Coach of the National Team of Cameroon.
Song’s father, Paul Song, died when he was young. He didn’t really know his father but nevertheless dedicates all his success to him, as his absence was a strong motivational force for him.
He is married to Esther Song, and has four children (two sons and two daughters): Ronny, Bryan, Yohanna Bernadette and Hillary Veronique Liliane.
He is also the uncle of former Indomitable Lions player Alexander Song.
Metz: Coupe de la Ligue: 1995–96
Liverpool: UEFA Cup: 2000–01
Galatasaray: Süper Lig: 2005–06, 2007–08
Turkish Cup: 2004–05
Trabzonspor: Turkish Cup: 2009–10
African Cup of Nations (2): 2000, 2002;
Confederations Cup: Runner-up 2003
IFFHS All-time Africa Men’s Dream Team: 2021