M’Bami was born on October 6, 1982 in Yaoundé, Cameroon and began his professional career playing for Dynamo Douala. He quickly caught the attention of overseas teams and in the summer of 2000, he joined CS Sedan Ardennes. M’Bami played 10 games in his first season in the French first division and contributed to his team’s fifth-place finish. He played in 60 games over the next two seasons, becoming a mainstay on the team. When the team was demoted to the French second division in 2003, M’Bami signed a €5 million, five-year deal with PSG after his agent Willie McKay halted advanced negotiations with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
M’Bami played alongside Lorik Cana, another promising defensive midfielder, during his debut season with PSG. They significantly contributed to the club’s successful season, in which PSG finished second in the French first division and won the French Cup, despite their inexperience.
M’Bami also had a successful international career, representing Cameroon in numerous tournaments. He helped Cameroon win gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, scoring three goals in 37 games, and also played for the team in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2004 African Cup of Nations.
M’Bami scored the game-winning goal against Brazil in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, helping Cameroon reach the semifinals.