Maradona pays tribute to Massing

  • Former Cameroon defender Benjamin Massing passed away on Saturday

  • He was one of the heroes of the Indomitable Lions' Italy 1990 adventure

  • Diego Maradona, who played against him with Argentina, paid his respects

The sad news broke on Sunday: former Cameroon centre-back Benjamin Massing had passed away on Saturday 9 December at the age of 55. Capped for his country 21 times, he was part of the legendary Indomitable Lions squad that unexpectedly reached the quarter-finals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™.

Massing, who lifted the CAF Africa Cup of Nations title in 1988, only took part in two matches in Italy, paying a high price for his commitment and fighting spirit. In the tournament’s Opening Match, where Roger Milla and Co took on defending world champions Argentina, the defender was sent off in the final minutes for an overly robust challenge on Claudio Caniggia, who had already skipped past a couple of attempted tackles and was making a beeline towards the Africans’ goal.

Although Massing received a red card, Cameroon hung on for a hugely surprising 1-0 win over La Albiceleste, who would go on to reach that year’s Final.

Also in the Argentina XI in 1990 was a certain Diego Maradona, who was unable to find a way through the resolute Cameroon defence. Over 27 years later, the global football icon has clearly not forgotten the formidable opponents he faced that day, and he was keen to pay tribute to Massing.

Let’s remember the late Benjamin Massing. We played against each other in the Opening Match of Italy 1990. Behind each football player, there is a man and a family. I would like to pass on my condolences to them.

After coming back into the team in Cameroon’s quarter-final with England, Massing again roused the ire of the referee, this time for a foul on Gary Lineker in the box, who scored from the spot to make it 2-2. The English striker put away another penalty in extra time, bringing to an end Cameroon’s greatest World Cup run to date.