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Thomas 'Tommy' Nkono (born July 20, 1955 in Dizangue) is a retired Cameroonian footballer.
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper Africa has ever produced, he is mainly associated to RCD Espanyol, whom he represented for almost a decade.
After playing in his country with Ă‰clair Douala, Canon Sportif de YaoundĂ© and Tonnerre YaoundĂ©, Nkono moved to Spain with RCD EspaĂ±ol in 1982, after solid performances in the FIFA World Cup played in that country. He received the France Football African Footballer of the Year award in that year, and also in 1979.
With the Catalans, he hardly ever missed a match, going on to amass more than 300 official appearances. In 1988â€“89, however, he was not able to help prevent the club's relegation and, by the time it returned to the first division, he was already second-choice, to younger Vicente Biurrun.
Nkono would play three more years in Spain, incidentally also in Catalonia, with CE Sabadell FC (second level) and CE L'Hospitalet; he retired already in his 40's, with Club BolĂvar from Bolivia. He subsequently returned to his main club as a goalkeeping coach, helping develop young talent (and countryman) Carlos Kameni.
A Cameroonian international for almost two decades, Nkono played in three World Cups: 1982, 1990 and 1994. In the first two, he was the undisputed starter, as the nation went out in the group stage without losing a match, and valliantly exited in the quarter-final against England, respectively.
In the very last minute of the 1994 edition's preparations, the 39 year-old was called as backup to Joseph-Antoine Bell, and did not play.
Nkono, who was the national side's goalkeepers coach, also worked briefly as interim coach, after German Otto Pfister resigned in protest. The following month, as Paul Le Guen took the reins of the team, he was reset in his old post.
In 2002, Nkono was arrested by riot police for allegedly using "black magic", prior to the African Cup of Nations semi-final against Mali (3â€“0 win). He was dragged onto the running track after stepping onto the pitch at the March 26 Stadium, alongside coach Winfried SchĂ¤fer, and eventually received a one-year ban, which was then lifted, although he was not allowed to sit on the bench for the final. There was speculation that an object found in his pocket was a black-magic charm aimed at helping Cameroon's cause.
Italian footballer Gianluigi Buffon, also a goalkeeper, declared he named his son Thomas in honour of Nkono.