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● Ewunkem was a living football legend in his own right. He died on July 10th 2012 at the Mount Mary Clinic Buea at the age of 65.

The young Ewunkem being introduced to President Ahmadou Ahidjo beforethe 1968 Cup Finals. Watching on to the left of Ewunkem is Atangana Ottou, the Prisons goalkeeper. Mbappe Leppe is seen watching over the President's left shoulder © DR

Relatively short, stout and bowlegged, Ewunkem played for Prisons of Buea through out his football career. Footballing since he was young, Ewunkem played for Sasse College football team before joining Prisons of Buea as a Pioneer player in 1967. In his early football career he played upfront but it was in the defence that he made his name.

Ewunkem was almost unbeatable in his right full back position. Playing against Prisons, left-wingers abandoned their traditional positions to play deep in the middle in a bid to escape his crunchy tackles. Attackers dreaded these tackles as they came in sudden burst with a lot of venom. If an attacker outpaced him, like lightening he would lunge from behind with a fierce tackle and the attacker would go down heavily in one big bunch. He subjected all attackers who went past him to this treatment irrespective of their height and weight. It was always amazing to see the "short defence man" bring down giants like Mbappe Leppe and Tsebo Jean Marie.

Ewunkem also distinguished himself for his hard shots which seldom rose above chest level. Legend has it that while playing for the Sasse College team, against BTTC Soppo, that school's goalkeeper abandoned his goalpost when Ewunkem stepped forward to take a penalty kick! Like Atangana, Ewunkem was a cult figure. Wherever Prisons played, fans jammed the stadium to see him. A Prisons team without Ewunkem was incomplete. He was Prisons and Prisons was him. With Prisons Ewunkem swept many local trophies – the Beaufort cup, lottery cup and Radio Buea cup. In 1968 he captained Prisons in the finals of the cup of Cameroon against Oryx of Mbappe Leppe on the Military stadium in Yaounde.

In 1975 he was drafted into the Cameroon National football squad that participated in that year's Military World Cup. At that tournament Ewunkem starred alongside such great stars like Milla, Fouda Batchot, Nlend and Ayissi. With that selection he played in Congo, Algeria and West Germany.

When Prisons descended to Division Two in 1977 Ewunkem stayed with the team. With his help, Prisons played the Interpools tournament in 1978, 1981 and 1982 but unfortunately the Club always failed to make an impact in the tournament. He quit competitive football after the 1982 Interpools tournament.

May his soul rest in peace.

Ashuntantang Tanjong
Buea-based Attorney and Football Historian.

Originally publlished in

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