With the African Cup of Nations kicking off this week, NTOF will be looking at some of the most interesting African players to grace Scottish football. Next up is Hibs’ former Congolese ‘keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay.
Born in Belgium, the goalkeeper came with a glittering CV to Easter Road, as a former PSV Eindhoven and Chelsea youth product.
Despite having never made a senior appearance at Stamford Bridge, he made the bench a few times, most notably against Barcelona in a Champions League group stage match which the Blues won 1-0.
Ma-Kalambay? Ma-Calamity more like
John Collins brought the keeper to the Hibees after leading them to League Cup victory. He may have arrived in Leith in 2007 with some noteworthy former clubs, but that meant nothing given his lack of appearances.
The number 50 would need to carve out a reputation for himself, and made a superb start. His competitive debut saw him keep a clean sheet in an Edinburgh derby victory at Tynecastle.
However, if there’s one thing you can take from the noughties following Hibs, it’s that their goalkeepers are often prone to a mistake. Ma-Kalambay is one in a long line of suspect Hibs ‘keepers.
He highlighted the issue himself in a Daily Record interview. Ma-Kalambay claimed that Hibs’ goalkeepers were criticised more often than their counterparts, namely Artur Boruc at Celtic.
Initially, Ma-Kalambay was set to be a Belgian international and represent the country of his birth. For the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he made one appearance for the Red Devils.
He replaced former Celtic ‘keeper Logan Bailly in their 3-2 quarter-final win over Italy. Losses to Nigeria and Brazil meant the Belgians finished fourth and Ma-Kalambay missed out on a medal.
However, having not been adjudged to have played for Belgium competitively, he was eligible to be selected for Congo. He qualified for the African nation as it was the birthplace of his father. With just three caps, it’s hardly an international career worth shouting about.
The likes of Zibi Malkowski made things tricky in Edinburgh for Ma-Kalambay but he’s a cult figure that Scottish football should not forget.