Lazio have forcefully denied claims that youth player Joseph Minala is over double the age he purports to be, and have threatened legal action should the supposed 17-year-old continue to be labeled a cheat.
Minala caused something of a stir after posting pictures of himself online and, with a face of a man far older than his teenaged years, the Cameroonian became an unintentional viral hit as thousands questioned his genuine age.
It is claimed in the Daily Mail that reports in the Senegalese press put Minala’s actual age at 41 - 24 years older than his supposed age - and this would not be the first time players from African countries have been found to have fake birth certificates.
Lazio, though, have been forced to release their official documents on Minala which show him to be 17, and say they will take action should they player’s age continue to be questioned.
“Lazio denounce this latest attempt from hostile figures to throw a sinister light on this club,” says a statement from the club.
“We reserve the right to take action against those responsible for the protection of the good name of the company and the footballer.”
Minala, meanwhile, closed both his Twitter and Instagram accounts due to the level of abuse he was receiving.