Cristiano Ronaldo is Cameroonian
Watching Real Madrid's striker Ronaldo leap, linger in midair and then thump a header goalwards to equalise in their Champions League fixture against Manchester United made me wonder if the Madeira-born glamour boy is actually from Cameroon.
For what the Portugal player did – waiting for a cross, shooting up perpendicularly like a rocket, remaining suspended for a few moments and then heading the ball – is something that the Bassa people of Cameroon are famous for.
In a fascinating book, Feet of the Chameleon: The Story of African Football, Ian Hawkey interviewed journeyman coach Claude Le Roy who told him about the strength of the Bassa in "jumping and hanging in the air for extra fractions of a second".
Football fans of a certain age will remember a Cameroonian striker named Francois Omam Biyick, the man who scored when Cameroon beat a Diego Maradona-led Argentina 1-0 in the opening match of the 1990 Fifa World Cup. It was the moment when the rest of the world started taking Africa seriously as a football-playing people.
Biyick's goal – yes, a header – involved the selfsame leap, suspension, and then forward thrust of the head. The Cameroonian was so adept at doing this that for some time a headed goal was known in some circles as an "Omam Biyick".
Le Roy told Hawkey: "I had a curiosity about this and one day I went to the village of Francois Omam Biyick, who was one of my best young centre-forwards, near a place called Pouma. I had noticed the balance and co-ordination of many of the players from that region and I thought: 'Hey, it wasn't coaching that gave them that.'
When I went to the village I found people were playing a special game. It uses a small ball, and it is a bit like head tennis and the court was the space between two houses – if I head the ball and it hits your house, I win. If I save the ball that you have headed, I win. And so on. That's why you get so many players with such great co-ordination especially from the Bassa regions, and you get this fantastic jumping quality."
It is time we examine Ronaldo's long-form birth certificate. It might well say "Place of Birth: Pouma, Cameroon".