Lazio have released a pair of statements denying the accusation that 17-year-old youth player Joseph Minala is actually 41.
Minala has been the subject of much ridicule and abuse for appearing much older than 17 since becoming one of the youngest players in recent years to be promoted to Lazio’s senior side. Quotes have even emerged from Senegalese website Senego.net that claim Minala confessed that he will turn 42 — more than twice his listed age — in August, and that he lied about his age in order to send money home to his family in Cameroon.
The player has since denied these allegations via Lazio’s website, and the club released an additional statement backing the player and even threatening with legal action.
[Minala] said: “I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my [official] documents.
"They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know."
"Lazio denounce this latest attempt from hostile figures to throw a sinister light on this club” and are prepared to take legal action to “protect the good name” of the club and its players.
Since the story went viral, Minala received so many taunts over his appearance that he even shut down all his social media accounts. But before doing so, Minala hit back at his critics with one final tweet, saying:
"Envy is the weakness of man and people of poor souls feel pain seeing others in Serie A. I love you all. Forza Lazio."
Words of true wisdom… for a man so young!