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It's official: Lazio youth player is 17 after all

ESPN staff
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Lazio gave their support to Minala

The Italian Football Association (FIGC) has ended doubts about the age of Lazio's youth-team player Joseph Minala by confirming that he is 17 after all.

Minala, the Cameroonian midfielder, hit the headlines in February after appearing on the bench for the derby clash with Roma after impressing in the youth team. Photos of the youngster went viral with suggestions he was closer to 40 than 17 and his club threatened legal action in a bid to stem the speculation.

Minala tried to end doubts in an interview back in April, in which he affirmed that he was born on August 24, 1996, but doubts persisted, prompting the FIGC to intervene and examine the player's paperwork. They have now ruled that everything is in order and that Minala is 17, as he says.

"Having examined the details of the investigation, the federal prosecutor has closed an inquiry into the actual age of the footballer Minala," an FIGC statement said. "There is no evidence [of malpractice] which can be subject to disciplinary proceedings."

Until the final day of the season, Minala had been the youngest player to appear in Serie A last season, having made his debut against Sampdoria. That record was subsequently taken by Federico Bonazzoli, who played for Inter Milan in their 2-1 defeat to Chievo just three days short of his 17th birthday.

Joseph Minala was accused of being close to 40 years old © Getty Images
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