With the World Cup just a week away we thought we would try and connect our club with the World Cup and who can forget that moment in 1990 when we came close(ish) to sign Cameroonian striker Roger Milla.
Milla was thirty eight at the time but went onto score four goals at Italia 90′ before the Lions were knocked out by England.
The Lions made history when they became the first African team to reach the quarter finals of a World Cup.
Walsall boss at the time Kenny Hibbitt revealed how he tried to use Charlie Ntamark (who was training with the club at the time) as the negotiator to bring Milla to the Bescot.
“We were the first club to make an enquiry and I thought he could bring a bit of joy back to the club.
“We had a Cameroon player, Charlie Ntamark, training with us that summer to get over an injury that meant he missed the World Cup. He acted as a go-between for us to speak to Milla.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But Roger wanted $1 million to play for us and, unfortunately, we were broke. We ended up signing Charlie instead.”
Now we know we didn’t get that close because we were never going to part with $1m for a player, especially not in 1990 when the club was on its knees but it’s a nice story to remember that we were in negotiations with a player that had just scored four goals at a World Cup! Ntamark would prove a success for the Saddlers (apart from that own goal against West Ham) so I would say we got the better deal out of it!
A whole host of clubs were vying for Milla but nothing ever materialised and he went back to his native Cameroon and signed for Tonnerre Yaounde.
Milla did finally come to Walsall – twenty four years later….to the University Of Wolverhampton Campus – to thank everyone for their fund raising to assist under privledged children in Cameroon.
Milla still holds the record of the oldest goalscorer at at World Cup finals, after scoring against Russia at USA ’94 aged forty-two years and thirty-nine days, beating hos own record set four years earlier.