What happened to Joseph Minala and where is he now? Former Lazio youth product was wrongly accused of being 42 at the age of 17 and looked to restart his career after denying sensational claims


Joseph Minala, the former wonderkid accused of being over 40 during the early days of his career, remains one of football’s most bizarre and tragic tales.

Minala’s name will be memorable to many for all the wrong reasons. Just over a decade ago, he made the headlines after signing for Lazio at the age of 17.

However, an African football website then immediately claimed the Cameroon-born player was pretending to be 17 and that he had altered his passport to take a full 25 years off his actual birth date, which would have made him 42.

Both Lazio and Minala’s agent were forced to rubbish the allegations, producing the necessary paperwork to prove once and for all that he had been a teenager.

Former Lazio star Joseph Minala was accused of being 42 during the early days of his career

Former Lazio star Joseph Minala was accused of being 42 during the early days of his career

Minala was forced to provide documents to prove to the authorities that he was actually 17

Minala was forced to provide documents to prove to the authorities that he was actually 17

After being cleared of any wrongdoing, Minala continued his career in 2014. He was unable to break through at Lazio after making just a handful of appearances, though.

Minala was then loaned out to several Serie B clubs, including Bari and Latina, and spent three successive seasons with Salernitana. But despite him playing 67 times, they opted not to turn his deal permanent and sent him back to his parent side.

The player moved to Qingdao Huangahi in the Chinese Super League on loan in 2020 and went on to play just 15 times during a largely forgettable campaign.

After he returned to Lazio, his contract ran out at the end of the 2020/21 season.

He went on to sign a one-year deal at Lucchese in Serie C but after making 20 appearances moved on once again, leaving his career in limbo at the age of 26.

One last dance in Italy with Olbia proved equally frustrating for Minala, who was released by mutual consent and then briefly joined Liepaja in Latvia.

After struggling to break through into Lazio's first-team, he moved on to a wide range of clubs

After struggling to break through into Lazio’s first-team, he moved on to a wide range of clubs

Minala (right) played in China for a brief spell and is now on the books at Sliema Wanderers

Minala (right) played in China for a brief spell and is now on the books at Sliema Wanderers

Even a decade on, Minala believes the controversy over his age has affected his career

Even a decade on, Minala believes the controversy over his age has affected his career

Now, Minala will look to find a more permanent home at Sliema Wanderers in Malta.

In a statement, the club said: ‘We are delighted to announce the exciting addition of Cameroonian defensive midfielder, Joseph Minala to our team.

‘Having already played for some top-level clubs throughout his career including Lazio, Bari and Salernitana, Joseph will bring a wealth of talent and experience.’

Minala has previously addressed the now infamous controversy over his age and believes that the matter impacted on his career during his time with Lazio. 

‘I was very young and I couldn’t know or predict the resonance this would have,’ he said. ‘I’m very convinced that the age story has always held back my career.

‘Did I expect more? Definitely. Every time I went out on loan I always had good seasons, but I never had the same chances as others at Lazio.’ 



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