Where are they now? Grass-roots Guinea the focus for ex-Liverpool man
Titi Camara was never a prolific goalscorer during his time at Liverpool, but his presence in front of the Kop seemed to please the watching Reds crowd.
A £1.2M signing from Marseille in 1999, Camara played 33 times for the Merseyside club, scoring nine goals.
While his tally wasn’t particularly high, some of the strikes he converted were memorable ones, and he was even named as one of the ‘100 players to shake the Kop’ during his short period at the club.
He left to join West Ham the following year, explaining how the lack of opportunities had been the number one reason for his exit:
“I’ve come to West Ham to play, play, play – and score,score,score.”
He featured 14 times for the Hammers without netting once.
Following his departure from Upton Park Camara headed for the Middle East, first with Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia before ending his career in Qatar.
And then in 2009 Camara was appointed manager of the Guinea national team for whom he had featured 38 times in his career.
However, his spell in charge didn’t last long, three months to be precise. Poor results were given as the reason for his dismissal, but rumours of discontent between Camara and those on the board were rife.
Camara led Syli Nationale to one victory, two draws and two defeats, but with one of those losses coming at the hands of the Ivory Coast, and the two draws against the more fancied sides of Angola and Egypt, he may just feel hard done by.
Nevertheless, the former Kopite was not done with his involvement with his country’s national team.
In 2010 he was named Guinean Minister for Sport, overseeing, amongst other things, the organisation around the team he used to manage.
He recalls how he was successful in securing the position in an interview with SoFoot.com:
“When you want to develop your country, we must get involved to bring your stone to the building. I met Mr Alpha Condé [Guinean Presidential candidate] and I told him; ‘I can help you during the campaign provided Guinea organises the Africa Cup of Nations in the coming years’”.
Camara’s wish has since been granted, with his nation named as hosts for the 2023 tournament, but his time in politics took a sour turn in 2012.
Many players, especially those not based in Africa, reportedly complained about the conditions they were forced to travel in and accommodation put up for them when on international duty.
Camara and a number of his fellow ministers were also accused of mismanagement of the team’s funds in preparation for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
While strenuously denying any wrongdoing, the man himself was reflective in the problems building up to the tournament.
“What I have gained during my career was enough, thank you!” he stated when questioned on the subject,” he said.
“The education I received and the European rigor to which I was accustomed during my career led me to work transparently.
“There are some errors that I would not have committed in hindsight.
“But I’m stubborn and mistakes are somehow part of life, it teaches you not to repeat them.”
After the Africa Cup of Nations, Camara’s relationship with then-national team manager Michel Dussuyer was a strained one.
Furthermore, the rumours of the missing cash caused a section of the country’s football fans to turn on their former hero, booing him at a game against Egypt.
In October that year, Camara was replaced in a cabinet reshuffle.
Another job in football down, but it wasn’t to be the last time he was overseeing the running of a football organisation.
In 2014, he submitted plans to create a football academy in the capital city, Conakry, aiming to share his knowledge and skills with the youth of his nation.
Racing Club de Guinea bids to combine sports with studies, Camara describing how he hopes his students “become responsible men and women”.
He has reportedly had 2,000 youngsters come through the doors of the set-up as the city’s youth embrace his work.
The next job now for Camara is to integrate his club into the national championship and secure partnerships in Europe, but things may be tough according to the centre’s president.
“The Federation is struggling to set up the structure of the championship. It does not have enough vision. People are football fans in Guinea, but they do things backwards. That’s what is a shame.”
These days the work is still on to establish his academy as one of the best about, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t got time for a bit of social media banter.
When Liverpool fans were frantically worrying about how they would replace Luis Suarez after his sale to Barcelona, Camara had these words of comfort.
When I left Liverpool not many people thought I could have been replaced. Liverpool will survive without Suarez
— Titi Camara (@TitiCamara22) July 7, 2014
And while he has his feet firmly planted back home in Guinea these days, the former striker announced a special visit to the city of Liverpool in April.
I will signing copies of my book in L1 @GreggstheBakers at 1pm. each book purchase will receive 1 sausage roll — Titi Camara (@TitiCamara22) April 1, 2015
It’s unclear whether there was an option to forego the sausage roll in favour of a Belgian bun.
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