Blast from the Past no.34: Kiki Musampa
Reviving the Premier League players you forgot existed…
There are some totally ambidextrous footballers; there are others who are decent with both feet; there are others who have a clear preference for their stronger foot; and there are some whose weaker foot is so impotent that they would sooner lie down on the floor and propel the ball with their buttocks than use it. Kiki Musampa was in the latter category.
The magnificently dreadlocked winger spent 18 months at Manchester City between 2005 and 2006 without his right limb ever being seen coming into contact with a football.
“I once saw him pirouette around the ball rather than use his right foot. I never understood how he managed to stand upright because the right foot seemed surplus to requirements,” recalled one City fan on the Blue Moon forum. Another described the midfielder’s right leg as being “more useless than a crutch full of woodworm”.
Given this evident disability, football may have seemed a strange career choice for the Congolese-born Dutchman, and to those who observed him on the pitch it did sometimes appear that he had chosen the wrong path in life. But in those moments where his wand of a left foot started working its magic, everything suddenly made sense.
Musampa would do everything with his left foot. Cross, pass, tackle; he probably brushed his teeth with it. And when he scored with it, the goal tended to be special.
Brilliantly nicknamed Chris (for reasons you will eventually work out if you think about it for long enough), Musampa was signed on loan from Atletico Madrid by Kevin Keegan half-way through the 2004-05 season.
The mid-2000s were a dour period for City, before the arrival of the Sheikhs and when Shaun Wright-Phillips was regarded as the height of opulence. A signing of Musampa’s pedigree would be laughed out of the Etihad nowadays, but back then there was something beguilingly exotic about him.
“In those days any player offering anything in an attacking sense was a bonus,” said one Blue. “We had to love him at the time. Of course he was average but we were rubbish and he gave us some good times, albeit few and far between,” agreed another.
In fact, those good times can be counted on one hand - and it was inevitable that Musampa’s finest hour would come courtesy of his trusty left peg.
Deep into injury time against Liverpool in April 2005, Musampa hit the sweetest of volleys to secure a 1-0 win and spark scenes of pandemonium at Eastlands.
“It was a class goal and he made himself a hero that day. It was as close as that side got to an ‘Aguerooooo moment’,” gushed one fan.
By then Keegan had resigned and been replaced by caretaker Stuart Peace, whose revitalised side mounted a late charge for a Uefa Cup spot. Musampa rose to the challenge in the run-in, scoring in the last two games of the season against Aston Villa and fellow European hopefuls Middlesbrough. But this being the “old” City, Robbie Fowler’s final-day penalty miss against the Teessiders meant they sneaked into Europe at City’s expense.
Nonetheless, Musampa’s left foot had done enough to persuade Pearce to extend his loan for another season. And the wand never let City down; the problem was the rest of him.
“He drove me mad most of the time,” said one City fan. “Kiki 'Sideways’ Musampa,” scoffed another. “He was s****,” concluded another.
City’s renaissance under Pearce proved to be a false dawn and the following campaign Musampa struggled, although he remained a difficult man to dislike.
“Strange player. He was capable of brilliance, but also prone to pure stupidity,” summarised one fan.
“Did a job and looked a bit mad. I liked him,” said a fellow Citizen, with another admitting to having “a soft spot for his awfulness”.
Musampa’s extravagant long locks - which Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher once memorably grabbed hold of to stop the winger getting away from him - also added a touch of glamour to his play. Occasionally, he threatened to look like a superstar.
“He was hardly putting on the Ritz every week but you could tell he wanted to,” was one fan’s kindly assessment.
It was a shame that Musampa’s glaring lack of pace hindered his effectiveness as a wideman, prompting Pearce to move him into a central midfield role where he occasionally flourished. He scored once in his second season - in an FA Cup quarter-final against West Ham - but it was not a happy occasion.
“His performance against West Ham was among the worst individual displays I’ve seen in a City shirt in recent years - and he scored a bloody good goal in that game, too,” said one fan.
Culpable for the Hammers’ opening goal in City’s biggest game of the season, it was this performance that turned many fans off Musampa. It was little surprise when the club opted against making his loan move permanent at the end of the season and he instead moved to Turkish side Trabzonspor, before seeing out his career in the Dutch and South Korean leagues without any particular distinction.
Nonetheless, there are some in Manchester who remain grateful to Chris Musampa (get it now?) for providing some rare chinks of light in a dark period.
“He may not have been David Silva, but he scored that quality goal against Liverpool and he had awesome dreads. For that I will always recall him fondly,” said one City fan.
“Kiki was if anything too good for the players around him. He would slip balls through only for other players to just not see the openings, or make countless runs without getting the ball,” claimed another.
Perhaps the world was not yet ready for a one-legged player, leaving Musampa’s story to serve as a lesson to all budding footballers that you should always practice with your weaker foot. Or failing that, make sure you have a magnificent haircut.
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