Landry N'Guemo is desperate to shine for Celtic so he can realise his dream of emulating Cameroon legend Roger Milla at next year's FIFA World Cup™.
N'Guemo, 23, has forced his way back into the Indomitable Lions line-up recently and is now looking to seal a place in the squad for next summer's finals in South Africa. Although the on-loan Nancy midfielder was only four when Milla became one of the stars of Italy 1990, he grew up watching videos of the veteran striker's famous goal celebrations.
He told the Celtic View: "It's hard for me to remember the 1990 World Cup, because I was so young, but I used to watch the footage of him shaking the corner flag when he scored. Milla was the star of the tournament for Cameroon and he was a hero to all the young football players in the country. He is someone I look up to."
Cameroon will seal their FIFA World Cup place if they beat Morocco next month. N'Guemo, who Celtic have an option to buy when his loan expires at the end of the season, said: "We have one more game to win and that would guarantee a World Cup place. If that was to happen, it would be more than a dream for me. A few years ago, when I first joined Nancy as a teenager, I couldn't even begin to dream about that becoming a reality."
Indeed, growing up in the village of Dschang, the odds were against N'Guemo even having a professional career and he was encouraged to enrol in university in case it all went wrong. He recalled: "In Africa, there are no grass pitches for young children to play football on. We would play on rocks and stones in our bare feet. We never wore shoes because we were never able to.
"My toes were always bleeding and my legs still have the scars from those days. I have marks all down my shins and on my knee. The first time I played in an organised game was when I was 13. I moved to Yaounde and I was picked up by Nancy."
N'Guemo will realise another childhood dream tomorrow night when he comes up against Ze Roberto in Celtic's UEFA Europa League Group C clash with Hamburg. N'Guemo said: "I have always admired Ze Roberto. He is a very good player and I can't believe he is now 35.
"For a long time, he has been successful and he is still very strong. Ze Roberto sits in midfield and controls the game. We will have to watch him very closely. But Hamburg have other good players, as well. It's a very important match for us. We are looking for our first win in the Europa League and we have to get three points to get off the bottom of the table."