From Barcelona to Midlands Football League — footie mad Patrick Suffo will always be the same. The following is an example of one of the many feature pieces written for our media clients … in this case the football website Another League.
Suffo has played alongside superstars such as Ronaldo and Luis Figo, but his love for the game hasn’t dimmed despite his current teammates being more akin to Dog & Duck than Barcelona.
The former African Nations Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist isn’t one to live off tales of past glories though and his priorities are still the same as when he was a youngster growing up on the streets of Cameroon — playing the sport he loves.
Now turning out for Midlands Football League outfit Coventry United, Suffo is the star attraction for the pockets of fans that cheer his team on each week. Not that he wants the extra attention his impressive CV attracts.
“I’m just a regular person when I go out and play,” said the 36-year-old. “I can’t speak for everyone else but it’s just normal for me.
“Football is something I’ve loved since I was a little kid. I still have a love for the game and you can’t explain that. The passion is still there and the love for football is there — I just love it.
“While you have the bug, it’s difficult to take away from you. All my life I’ve played football and it’s something that is very difficult to totally disconnect from. It is a passion and I want to keep going until I can’t play anymore.”
Suffo has been playing for amateur teams in and around Coventry since he left his last professional club Wrexham in 2009, and even turned out for Sunday League outfit Bedworth Liberal Working Men’s Club for a short while.
But while it’s a world apart from the glory days with his national team and at clubs including Barcelona and Nantes, Suffo still gets the same insatiable tingle he’s always felt when he sees the ball hit the back of the net.
“My passion is to score goals and it still feels very, very good to do that. I love it and I’m passionate about it — I play mostly to enjoy myself,” Suffo explained.
“It’s different when you’re playing at this standard and you’re dropping from the highest level. You can tell the understanding on the game is not the same and you have different quality of pitches, but you can’t complain.
“Opponents do know who you are and try to man mark you, but they play the game around and you get used to it. It’s certainly no trouble for me.”
Once one of the world’s most coveted youngsters, Suffo’s professional career was curtailed by a troublesome knee that he first had surgery on at the age of 16.
And while it stopped him fulfilling all of his potential, he doesn’t feel an ounce of jealousy when he looks back at what some of his team-mates went on to achieve in their careers.
Instead, the stocky forward is thankful for the successful times he experienced and says just living his childhood dreams gave him enormous satisfaction.
“I was at Barcelona when they had top players like Luis Figo, Laurent Blanc, Ronaldo and Luis Enrique,” he recalled. “There was a squad of top-class players and it is a different life.
“At Barcelona and Nantes, I had a few teams looking at me, but even playing at that level and with those players is something I couldn’t have imagined before. Nobody can take that away from me and it’s something I’ll be able to tell my son.
“Being Cameroonian and the great team they had when I was growing up, my dream was to play at the highest level and maybe one day play for the national team. That was my ultimate dream as a young boy and I achieved that, which I’m very proud of.”
Suffo’s greatest achievements came when he pulled on The Indomitable Lions’ green jersey, after winning the African Nations Cup and Olympic Gold at Sydney 2000.
And while he’s collected further silverware since stepping into the regional divisions, Suffo admits that the thrill of winning an international competition can’t be matched — even though he doesn’t keep the major medals on show at home.
“It was one of my dreams to be part of the best football tournament in Africa, so winning it was beyond my wildest dreams,” he said.
“Winning a major trophy with your country, especially for Cameroon and how football is there, is definitely one of the most amazing parts of my career.
“We won the league at (former club) Alvis two years ago and won the cup, but you’re talking about winning at the very highest level of football and there’s no contest.
“I keep all my awards and medals, but I don’t the African Nations Cup with me. They are at my parents’ house in Cameroon because I wouldn’t have achieved what I did without them and it’s my way of saying thank you.”
Article written by Write Angle Media reporter Chris Evans for the website www.another-league.co.uk