Embolo: The first to net a World Cup goal against their country of birth

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Embolo: The first to net a World Cup goal against their country of birth
Embolo scored the only goal in Switzerland's victory of Cameroon
Embolo scored the only goal in Switzerland's victory of Cameroon
Reuters
Scorer of the winning goal for Switzerland against Cameroon in a 1-0 win, striker Breel Embolo (25) carries with him a history of respect for his origins.

Embolo, plays for French side Monaco, taking in a playing career that has spanned across Europe. 

Cameroonian by birth, on Thursday the Switzerland striker confined his country of birth to defeat at the World Cup.

At the age of five, he left Cameroon accompanied by his mother. His parents separated and Embolo initially went to France. In the end, they found refuge in Nordstern, Switzerland - a suburb of Basel - where his mother met her new partner. 

The European country welcomed Embolo and his family, with the athlete gaining citizenship in December 2014.

Embolo scored the only goal of the game
StatsPerform

From the age of eight, little Breel commuted to the training sessions of the local club, Old Boys. It was there that he developed a love for the number 36, which ultimately became his symbol. He wore it in BaselSchalkeMönchengladbach and now wears it at his current club.

"It was a bus line and we used to go with a whole bunch of guys to training. It was a beautiful and very special time. Thanks to football, I made a lot of friends and it made it easier for me to adapt in a new city," Embolo recalled.

He plays with the number 7 at the World Cup, but only because numbers higher than 26 are not allowed.

He had talent, but the way to success was his determination. He knew he wasn't getting anything for free. 

When he was growing up, he found a part-time job at the regional football headquarters. He was put in charge of the delegation of referees and the distribution of fines. "At first I thought: 'it's not possible that we're suspending a footballer for five weeks'. But there I may have learned a little that today I'll think twice about what I say to the referee. Rules are rules," he said with a smile in October 2015 in an interview with SonntagsBlick.

Embolo did not go unnoticed in his homeland and was first called up to represent Cameroon. But all of Embolo's training and development took place in Switzerland, and Embolo's preference was to play for them, where he began to be called up from a young age. His senior debut came in 2015, when the Swiss drew 1-1 with the United States in a friendly.

By this time he was at Basel, where he got his first chance from coach Murat Yakin, catapulting him to the Swiss national team, becoming its youngest player at Euro 2016.

A move to the Bundesliga followed. However, he was hampered by serious injuries at Schalke, breaking his fibula, injuring his ankle, suffered from bone swelling and a broken foot - in total he was out of action for almost two years, exactly 604 days.

Even so, an offer from Borussia Mönchengladbach came in 2019.

Another fateful moment came at the draw for the Qatar World Cup groups. His two countries – Switzerland and Cameroon – were drawn in the same group. "You know, since we found out we're going to play Cameroon, I've been asked that question about ten thousand times. So I always laugh when I hear it again.

Breel Embolo's heat map
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"Yes, of course it's strange, it's my home country, my mum and dad are from there, I have my whole family there," he said.

With the goal scored against Cameroon, Embolo became the first player in World Cup history to score a goal for his adopted country against his home country. Out of respect, he did not celebrate the goal.

Breel has previously stated his love for his homeland: "My dad still lives in Cameroon. We have a good relationship, we call each other regularly. I always visit him once a year in the summer.

"We talked even when I was deciding whether to play for Switzerland or Cameroon. He told me that he is proud of me and that it doesn't matter what I choose," said Embolo in an interview with the Swiss Blick

"It's beautiful there, it's a different world, a different culture. I like to see something different and not have to think. In addition, I can move there unnoticed," he added. However, that may well change after the goal against Cameroon.

Embolo will undoubtedly be involved in Switzerland's next game of the tournament as they cross paths with Brazil in the second round of Group G. The Swiss face Neymar and co on Monday at Stadium 974