Djibouti has never played in a World Cup or the African Cup of Nations. They’re the fourth worst team in the CAF according to FIFA – just Somalia, the Seychelles and Eritrea are below them in the rankings.
Its league, however, boasts a former Barcelona star. Alex Song has joined Arta/Solar7. “It’s a coup for Djiboutian football,” the club boasts in quotes carried by Marca. “It’s an opportunity to promote local football,” said Song.
Arta/Solar7 has enjoyed success in recent years, winning four leagues and six cups since 1988. Song’s presence, however, is a shock given how high the Cameroonian, the nephew of Rigobert Song, once flew.
Having begun his career in France with Bastia, Song made his name in London with Arsenal, where he spent the best six years of his career. His performances earned him a move to LaLiga with Barcelona in 2012.
“We decided on signing a midfielder due to the departure of Seydou Keita, and Song was first on our list of priorities,” Barca’s then-sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said during Song’s presentation. “He has technical ability, ball control, tactical knowledge and physical strength.”
The Cameroonian’s time in Catalonia, however, didn’t work out. He spent four years there in theory, but the final two were back in England on loan at West Ham.
After leaving Barcelona he joined Russian side Rubin Kazan before spending time with Sion in Switzerland, unable to recapture the form that once held his name so high in European football.
“Zubizarreta told me that I wasn’t going to play much,” Song later remarked. “I told him I didn’t care. I knew that I was going to be a millionaire – I thought about my wife and my children, and that it was necessary to have a comfortable life after football.”
His time in Russia was tough. “I always ate alone in the clubhouse by myself,” he told The Telegraph. “I was going crazy. When I signed they told me they would give me a house, but then months went by and I still didn’t have it. In the end they took me out of the hotel and I lived in their sporting complex.
“I spent all my time sitting in my room – always on the computer because I couldn’t watch the television seeing as I didn’t understand anything in Russian. My whole life was based around my computer and my mobile phone. That’s not healthy.”
Then, in Switzerland, Song encountered even more problems. “They wanted the players who cost a lot of money to go, and so they stopped paying us,” he revealed.
“The club told me that the money would arrive in my account, but it never happened. You have mortgages and expenses that you have to pay – the bank in London was asking me for money. That was the worst part.”
Now, back to basics in the Horn of Africa, Song will be hoping to find a way to enjoy his football again. Still just 33, the midfielder could have a couple of good seasons left in him.
Featured image courtesy of FC Barcelona.