Bassogog goes on a trademark dribbling offensive move (XINHUA)
The year 2017 was a golden one for footballer Christian Mougang Bassogog, who ended the season on a high note by winning two personal trophies. In addition to his title of Best Player of the 2017 African Cup of Nations (CAN), the Cameroon forward was voted best African footballer by his peers at the end of the season last November.
Bassogog, who plays for the Chinese Super League (CSL) club Henan Jianye FC, was ranked fourth best player in the league for 2017. Only the three South American stars Ezechiel Lavezzi, Hulk and Carlos Tevez outranked him. But while he is no less talented, the Douala-born player has received much less media attention than his three counterparts. So who is Bassogog?
Playing as either a forward or attacking midfielder, Bassogog - the sixth child in a family of twelve - relies on his physical commitment and technique to perform on the field.
On February 19 last year, Bassogog displayed his wide range of skills at the CAN 2017, as a result of which he signed a lucrative contract with Henan Jianye FC. As relayed by the press, the Cameroonian will receive $43 million over five years. The AaB Aalborg FC in Denmark, where he played for two seasons, also secured a transfer fee of $7.4 million. This is an incredible bargain, considering that Bassogog was bought for $430,000 at the time.
On the field, the pressure is commensurate with the investment. Bassogog needs to deliver and he knows it. But before one month had even passed, the player had already dispelled all doubts.
"First, there was an adaptation problem. It was difficult to leave the CAN and start the marathon that led to my contract in China. This required a good level of concentration to acclimatize. But as soon as the third match [came along], I found my footing," he said.
On April 15, 2017, when Henan Jianye faced Jiangsu Suning, everything seemed to go wrong for the team with a missed penalty at the 12th minute. But the newly recruited winger launched a dribbling offensive trademark move which ended with a high shot that marked his first official goal, not only of the season, but also in China. Although Brazilian Ramires managed to equalize at the 79th minute for Jiangsu Suning, local supporters did adopt the Cameroonian as one of their own.
While some may criticize his strong individualism, he continues to perform on the field. Videos showing Henan Jianye's number 10 dribbling are widely shared on social networks. Match after match, he continues to score while also assisting in creating goals for his teammates. Bassogog reached the symbolic bar of 10 goals, adding another seven assists to his statistics. Last September, he was even named CSL Player of the Month. Finally, two of his goals were selected among the best goals of the league, which is becoming increasingly competitive.
Getting in with the big guns
As a member of the Indomitable Lions, Cameroon's national team, Bassogog scored his first goal on January 5, 2017, during a friendly match between his home country and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On his own turf, he scored the game's second goal in the 66th minute, with an unstoppable shot from the left that went straight pass the Congolese goalkeeper. This goal gave a significant push to the forward's visibility in the footballing world.
Spotted by the Fundesport Training Center, a football academy founded by his fellow superstar countryman Samuel Eto'o, Bassogog started his professional career with Fotouni's Wounded Lion FC, in the Cameroonian League 2. There, he scored six goals in 26 games, before being transferred to Bamenda's Rainbow FC in April 2014, another League 2 team. In November of the same year, he flew to the United States where he joined the Wilmington Hammerheads FC, in the United Soccer League, the third North American division.
At the end of the season, unable to score in 15 games, the player decided to try his luck in Europe. In August 2015, he moved to Denmark, playing for AaB Fodbold FC. There, he was spotted by the coach of the Cameroon's national team, Hugo Broos, who was looking for a left-wing forward to strengthen the attack of the Indomitable Lions.
The rest, as they say, is history. Bassogog proved the Belgian coach right, as Cameroon won the 2017 CAN for the second time, after winning the trophy in 2002. And the icing on the cake is that Bassogog was crowned the Best Player of the championship.
With his growing influence in 2017, Bassogog now enjoys a brand-new status and is sure to remain a firm crowd favorite in China.
(Reporting from Cameroon)
Christian Mougang Bassogog Bio
* Born on October 18, 1995, in Douala, Cameroon
* Height: 1.75 meters
* Weight: 75 kg
* Current Team: Henan Jianye Football Club, Chinese Super League
* Position: Forward
* Statistics (Season 2017): 10 goals and seven assists from 24 league games