Lazio have responded to allegations that 17-year old youth team member, Joseph Minala, is actually 41-years old by threatening legal action against those who question the legitimacy of his age.
The Italian side’s fury comes after the website senego.net claimed Minala told them that he was actually 41-years old.
On Thursday, Minala issued a statement through Lazio’s website denying the story.
“I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my [official] documents.
“They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know.”
Italian journalist Max Evangelista, who reports on Lazio’s youth team, has rushed to Minala’s defense explaining that the youngster’s look was advanced by a difficult childhood.
“He was in an orphanage for a couple of years in Cameroon, then he had to face the situation here by himself,” he told BBC World Service. “It is a controversial story because the face of the player is not that of a 17-year-old guy. On his face there is sign of his previous life, which was not a happy life. That is it. Period. There is nothing else that makes you think he is 41.
“He is a kid with the head of a kid. He only wants to play football as he did on the road years ago barefoot. That is the only thing he is focused on and being a talent because he is a talent.”
Credit to both Evangelista, for coming forward with such strong-worded backing of the young Cameroonian, and the club who have threatened legal action.
Minala, a midfielder, has scored five goals and recorded six assists this season for Lazio’s youth team.