If Cameroon are to progress from a group featuring Brazil, Croatia and Mexico, they will need 22 year-old Joel Matip to be at his combative best, says Chris Mendes.
It should have come as no surprise when Joel Matip embarked on a career as a professional footballer. He is the younger brother of fellow Cameroon international, Marvin Matip, the cousin of ex-Middlesbrough forward Joseph-Desire Job, and the son of former Cameroon footballer Jean Matip.
The versatile German-born central defender was scouted by Schalke's as an eight year-old, making his senior bow against Bayern Munich ten years later under current Fulham boss Felix Magath.
Any fears Matip would be overawed at the Allianz Arena in November 2009 were dismissed shortly before half-time, when the 18 year-old headed Schalke level from a set-piece, cancelling out Daniel van Buyten's opener.
He was later named man-of-the-match in the 1-1 draw, and has represented the Bundesliga side more than 130 times since.
Matip is a powerful, dynamic and tough-tackling central defender, whose versatility and ease with the ball at his feet mean he's often deployed as a defensive midfielder, protecting the back four and moving play forward quickly and effectively.
Armed with an array of key attributes for the modern-day defender, Matip soon established himself in a Schalke team which reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2009/10.
He has also been touted as a future Cameroon captain, even though it wasn't always straight forward between Matip and The Indomitable Lions.
One month after the 6 ft 4 in youngster's towering debut against Bayern, he received a surprise call-up from Cameroon ahead of the 2010 African Cup of Nations.
Matip declined the offer, opting to concentrate on Schalke's challenge for the Bundesliga title, which they eventually lost to Bayern by five points.
There was also confusion surrounding whether he would choose to represent Cameroon or wait for a call-up from the German FA, Matip's place of birth, and his mother's home country.
In March 2010, the situation was cleared up when Matic was rewarded for his fine club form with a new three-and-a-half year Schalke deal, and celebrated by committing his future to Cameroon, despite an approach from German technical director Matthias Sammer.
Matip has played 16 matches for Cameroon since making his debut against Italy in March 2010, and despite only featuring once as an 18 year-old during the 2010 World Cup, he will be one of the first names on the team-sheet in Brazil.
Against all the odds, will Joel Matip be able to keep the likes of Neymar, Hulk and Fred quiet when they meet in Brasilia, live on ITV on June 23rd?