A player on one of the top Italian youth soccer teams who says he’s a teen might really a 41-year-old, according to a report.
Joseph Minala of Cameroon is listed as 17 years old, but a Web report says the soccer player’s real age is 41, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Team officials for Lazio, one of Italy’s biggest clubs and based in Rome, slammed the report and had threatened legal action against anyone disputing Minala's age after the African website senego.net reported that he had told them that he was 41 years old — something the player denied in a statement on the Serie A club's website.
"They say he looks 40, but how can they say that?" club owner Claudio Lotito said. "How many people have a baby face but are actually older than they seem?
"And tell me how a 40-year-old could play in a Primavera [youth team] game and last the distance? The system has been poisoned by those looking to exploit creatively written news."
Lotito said Minala "deserves respect" and will take legal action, according to the Guardian.
The club claims that midfielder Minala's mature looks are due to a tough life and criticized the "unfair allegations."
"We forget the efforts that those like him have had to make. He has come from a difficult situation and has done everything he could to be a success."
Like shaving 24 years off his birthdate?