Rigobert Song was handed immense responsibility from an early age with his country. When he was only 16, he was the captain of the Under-20 side. Only a year or so later he was playing for his country in the World Cup finals in the United States. Coach Henri Michel said he had never known such a self-confident youngster as Song, who later was appointed captain of the senior team. He got a red card against Brazil in 1994 and when he was sent off against Chile during the World Cup in France in 1998, he became the first player to be sent off in two consecutive finals tournaments. He also featured in the 2002 and 2010 World Cup and played at a record eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. Song also holds the record of the most capped player in the history of the Cameroon national team with 137 appearances!
Song was obviously fond of the colour red, because he often played in red shoes and six months after the World Cup in France, he became one of the first players signed by Gerard Houllier for Liverpool. Song was quite a character, but the high-spirited African could not cope with life in the Premier League. He was tough, skilful and brave in battle but lacked discipline and got caught out of position far too many times for the liking of Liverpool's management. Jamie Carragher was not his biggest fan as he revealed in his autobiography. Song had apparently mocked Carra's defensive skills and the Bootle boy made him pay. "Song walked on to the training pitch with a smile on his face. He was limping off it with a grimace an hour later," Carragher said. "The first chance I got, I did him. Never have I hunted down a 50–50 tackle with greater appetite." Song only made 38 appearances for Liverpool's first team before being transferred to West Ham in November 2000. But a change of scenery did not mean a change of fortune and he struggled to hold down a first-team place with the Hammers as well. He was sent on loan to Cologne and subsequently agreed a permanent deal with French club Lens in 2002. After two years in France, Song moved to Turkey where he won the league in 2006 and 2008 with Galatasaray and finished his career with Trabzonspor.
In February 2022, on the orders of the country's president, Song was appointed head coach of the Cameroon national side.
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"It's difficult to integrate, but I believe I've managed to do it. I played in France with Metz, in Italy with Salernitana and in England with Liverpool, so I've shown I'm a professional and can adapt.
I think people realise quickly that I'm not shy and I like a laugh, and I'm not someone who likes to sit around on his own. Language was a handicap at the start, but now I get all the jokes and Robbie Fowler really makes me laugh. Coming to Europe has enabled me to iron out the flaws in my game, largely through the regular experience of playing at the highest level. Now I play the European way."
Song in July 2000
"I will say this about the English press - they are very consistent. First it was Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Fowler, then it was Titi Camara and now it is Rigobert Song. I can tell you that Rigo is not for sale. We like him and he's a good personality to have at the club. He understands he is part of a squad here and that means sometimes you don't play, but sit on the bench and wait for your chance to come along."
Houllier in April 2000(Song left in November 2000)
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Tonnerre Kalara Club de Yaoundé||1992-1994||Cameroon||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|West Ham United||2000-2001||England Premier League||19||0||21||0|
|West Ham United||2001-2002||England Premier League||5||0||6||0|