Eric Djemba-Djemba, the infamous Cameroon international and ex Man Utd player is still a midfield ‘maestro’, yes pun intended! He is currently plying his trade for FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues in the fifth division Swedish League. Djemba flight to prominence started in Nantes where he developed a great midfield partnership with Mathieu Berson. His performances as a feisty and uncompromising tackler for the French club akin to Roy Keane earned him a dream move to Manchester United for £3.5 million in the summer of 2003.
Due to his playing style, he was seen as a possible successor to Roy Keane. Unfortunately his 18 months at the Theatre of Dreams proved that he could not even come close to the legendary Irishman. He made just 20 appearances for the club scoring just 2 goals. He was also called ‘obscene’ by Arsene Wenger for a rash tackle on Sol Campbell on his Man United debut.
The fondest memory of his time remains a late volley against Leeds in the FA Cup. With the score leveled at 2-2, Quinton Fortune took a corner kick which Djemba met first time and scored the winner. Apart from this one off goal, Old Trafford was of the impression that he is so bad that they had to name him twice!
Not very surprisingly, he was sold off at the earliest opportunity. Aston Villa brought him for £1.5million. The move did little to improve his reputation, it only confirmed that he was not capable enough for the Premier League. Subsequently he was loaned out to Burnley in the Championship where again he failed to impress.
He decided to leave Europe and joined Qatar SC. The move revived his football career despite playing there for just one season. He then moved to Odense Boldklub in Denmark. It is here where he played the best football of his life and was a fan favourite. He went on to be nominated as the player of the year in the Danish League and widely impressed critics.
This sudden revival sparked rumours of a return to England with West Brom- a move that failed to materialise. His actions also soured the relationship between Odense and the player. As a result his contract was terminated in 2012, and the search of a new club began again.
Descent into oblivion
Since 2012, he has gone on to play for Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel, Partizan in Serbia, St Mirren in Scotland, Chennaiyan in India, and for Persebaya Surabaya in Indonesia. He seems to be a travel journalist rather than a professional footballer!
His off-field problems have also hampered his career. Djemba-Djemba was declared bankrupt in 2007 following his move to Aston Villa from Manchester United. He was also married and had four children before getting divorced. He was also the last person to talk to Marc-Vivien Foe before the latter collapsed and died while playing against France in the 2003 Confederations Cup. Despite his negatives, Djemba still has a FA cup winners’ medal, and an African Cup of Nations winners’ medal to his name!
To sum it all up, Djemba-Djemba was one of Sir Alex’s most expensive transfer failures. His career followed a downward spiral ending in meaningless oblivion.