FC Tucson News Release -- www.fctucson.com
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. -- He doesn’t remember the exact date, but Junior Gbapou does remember the first time he met international star and Cameroon national team member Samuel Eto’o. Gbapou, who was playing for an academy in Cameroon at the time, had just finished putting the finishing touches on a tournament-MVP performance. Eto’o happened to be watching the match.
Afterwards Gbapou finally met the player he’d idolized for as long as he could remember. And then he cried.
“The emotion [overcame me],” Gbapou said. “I couldn’t believe I met him.”
Eto’o imparted some encouraging words about Gbapou’s performance and when the two parted Eto’o continued to be an international star while Gbapou was still the player that idolized him.
Now the two will be teammates. Last week Gbapou received a call up to train with the Cameroon National Soccer team.
“I was very excited,” Gbapou said. “To play for your country, for any player, is a dream come true. I don’t even know how to explain that. It’s like, ‘wow.’ ”
Gbapou isn’t sure when, exactly, he’ll be leaving for Cameroon, but he wasn’t able to make in time for the team’s Africa Cup of Nations qualification match on October 14. The Indomitable Lions (the nickname for the Cameroon National Team) beat Cape Verde 2-1, but lost 3-2 on aggregate and failed to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Even with the team out of the Africa Cup of Nations, Gbapou’s call up means he could have a chance to play with Cameroon for its 2014 World Cup Qualifying. Cameroon has two more matches in 2013 in the second round of African World Cup qualifying.
“Here at FC Tucson we couldn’t be happier for Junior,” said FC Tucson general manager Jon Pearlman. “To be called into a first team camp for your country is a remarkable achievement, especially one with as rich of a soccer history as Cameroon. We hope this is the beginning of many opportunities for him.”
Gbapou said he isn’t sure what he’s going to say when he meets his idol again when the time comes for him to join camp.
“It is going to be an emotional experience,” Gbapou said. “I used to watch him all the time and now I’m playing along side of him. It’s just hard to explain, you know?”