Joseph N’Do’s route to the League of Ireland was anything but normal.
He started his career playing for Canon Youande in his native Cameroon before moving to rivals Cotonsport FC de Garoua in 1997.
He won the Elite One league with Cotonsport and this is where he was noticed by national manager Claude Le Roy.
Le Roy was impressed with the attacking midfielder’s flair and brought the 22-year-old N’Do to the 1998 World Cup in France.
N’Do admits that few of the squad knew who he was before the tournament started. He started all of Cameroon’s games alongside players such as Rigobert Song and Patrick M’Boma.
Cameroon drew two games and lost one as they failed to reach the knock-out stages.
N’Do moved to Swiss team Neuchâtel Xamax before moving to Racing Club Strasbourg in France. In his second season with the French outfit, he won the Coupe De France before the team suffered relegation. N’Do played in Saudi Arabia and China before he moved to Ireland.
He enjoyed success with Cameroon as they won the 2000 and 2002 African Cup of Nations and was part of the squad that featured at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
N’Do became frustrated at his lack of game time for Cameroon and he made himself unavailable for selection for the national team after 2002.
He did not enjoy a great start to his career in Ireland as he struggled at Dublin team St. Patrick’s Athletic before moving to rivals Shelbourne in 2004. It was here that N’Do made his mark.
He helped Shelbourne to win the league title in 2004 and 2006, the same season he was named Player of the Year and was included in the Team of the Season.
N’Do returned to St. Patrick’s Athletic for a brief stint before being placed on loan at Shamrock Rovers. At the start of the 2009 season, he was signed by Dublin team Bohemians where he was pivotal to the team’s success.
He helped Bohemians to win the League of Ireland Cup before inspiring the team to their second league title in a row and was once again named in the Team of the Season.
N’Do left Bohemians on a free transfer at the end of that season and moved to Sligo Rovers where he became popular with supporters as he helped the team win the 2010 cup final with a Man of the Match display.
In 2012, he helped Sligo win the League of Ireland for the first time in 35 years. A year later, he led Sligo to another cup win as he assisted the second goal in a 3-2 victory against Drogheda United.
N’Do won the Setanta Cup, the equivalent of the Carabao Cup in England, before moving to Limerick City on a short loan. He returned to Sligo Rovers but left them when the 2014 season ended.
He continued to play for amateur sides as a player/coach and also managed Sligo Rovers for seven games.
N’Do was one of the greatest imports in the history of Irish football. He is one of a few players to have played with the ‘Big Four’ Dublin teams: Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne.
He won every major title in Irish domestic football, he was a talented player who helped to promote the game, and he played alongside some of Africa’s greatest footballers in Samuel Eto’o and Rigobert Song.
More importantly for Irish soccer fans, he brought greater interest to the league and he will go down in history as one of the most important players in the history of Irish domestic football.