Jean Makoun: Ready for battle
A defensive sentinel from the same mould that crafted Claude Makelele
Born: May 29, 1983, in Yaounde, Cameroon
Nickname: The Sergeant
Clubs Played for: Makoun moved around several Cameroonian youth systems, including Cotonsport Garoua, Jeunesse Stat and Tonnerre Yaounde, before he moved north to France and Lille in 2001. In seven seasons with LOSC, Makoun developed into an unyielding defender – his boundless stamina fascinated clubs in Ligue 1. In 2008, when Lille manager Claude Puel moved to Olympique Lyon, OL paid nearly $18 million Cdn for Makoun, and the Sergeant instantly rooted himself at the base of the French giant’s midfield.
International career: As Makoun has lent his remarkable athletic abilities to both Lille and Lyon, so too has he given much in service of his country. The 27-year-old has appeared for Cameroon 49 times since 2003 – participating in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 African Nations Cups – and in South Africa he will work alongside either Celtic’s Landry N’Guemo or Arsenal’s Alexandre Song to become the teeth in the indomitable Lions defence.
Why is he so special? Ostensibly taken from the same mould that crafted the unconquerable Claude Makelele, Makoun has the peerless determination, rugged strength and smooth touch needed to be an influential defensive midfielder. Not to mention the cavalier temperament that possesses him to take the ball up the field to prove to his opponent that he can both destroy their intentions and create possibilities for his team.
His most famous moment: Makoun scored the only goal in the first leg of Lyon’s round of 16 matchup against Real Madrd this season: the Sergeant ran through Real’s midfield and launched the ball over 20 metres up and beyond Iker Casillas.
He said it: "For any player, playing in a World Cup is exceptional. In addition, this one takes place on our continent and I think for all Africans, it is huge. And for the countries involved, it is even greater."
Here is an interesting fact: Makoun likes to referred to as Jean II since his father, Jean Sr., is also a footballer.