After 426 goals, 877 appearances and 22 years of professional football, the magnificent Samuel Eto’o has retired.
He’s a well-travelled bloke, having played for 14 clubs across six different leagues, whilst also playing over a century of games for Cameroon. He’s also a well-spoken individual, leaving soundbites here and there about his thoughts, feelings and opinions.
To help chronicle his path from the Real Madrid academy to the bright lights of Doha – via a hat-trick of Champions League titles – here’s a look at eight insightful Eto’o quotes.
Setting Himself Up for a Career at Stamford Bridge
“I’d rather sell ground-nuts in my village than play for a pathetic team like Chelsea.” (101 Great Goals)
In spring 2005,Barcelona and Eto’o took a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their European Cup knockout tie with Chelsea . If nothing else, the striker’s comments suggest a man who has absolute confidence in his own qualities.
That confidence, which bordered on arrogance, was instrumental to the Cameroonian’s rise to the top of the game. Without it, he would not have had the drive and determination when things got tough, nor the audacity to go for the sublime.
Unfortunately, Eto’o ended up with egg on his face on two occasions following this remark about the Blues. La Blaugrana were dumped out 5-4 on aggregate, with his move to Stamford Bridge nine years later seeing supporters dig up this old quote.
Showing Respect to His Old Club
“Madrid, you bas**rds, salute the champions.” (Goal)
Eto’o was on the books at Real for four seasons, though he played a total of just seven matches for Los Blancos before switching to Mallorca and then Barcelona.
A lack of game-time saw the hitman earn zero honours during his time with Madrid, yet he won La Liga in his debut campaign at the Nou Camp, a year in which he scored 25 league goals.
Evidently displeased with his treatment in Madrid, Eto’o could not wait to rub victory in the faces of his former employers. He would add further salt to the wounds with two more league titles and a brace of Champions League trophies in Catalonia as things went quiet in the capital.
A Defiant Response to Racist Abuse
“Since that day, I decided I will stand up and fight against abuse, stand up and shout. Only we can make it stop. Nobody is going to do it for us.” (Zee News)
The issue of racism in the beautiful game has gone on far too long and Eto’o has been one of the men leading the fight against it.
He threatened to walk off the pitch during a clash with Real Zaragoza in 2006 in response to monkey chants coming from the home crowd.
In the aftermath of the incident at La Romareda, Eto’o vowed to do all he could to win the battle against prejudice. He has stayed true to his word, earning Medal of Tolerance from the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation in 2015 for his inspirational efforts.
Why He Didn’t Join Spurs
“Tottenham – and I hope the English fans will forgive me – are a club in mid-table and I need more.” (AZ Quotes)
Modern Tottenham Hotspur fans won’t think the forward’s comments regarding their club are very accurate, but a decade ago Spurs weren’t exactly high-flyers.
When Pep Guardiola arrived at Barça in the summer of 2008, Eto’o seemed destined to depart. Ronaldinho, Deco and Gianluca Zambrotta had all been axed and the African looked set to join them out the exit door.
Though he stuck around for one more campaign – which ended with more European glory – before the gossip indicated the Lilywhites were trying to lure him to England. As the player himself said, Spurs weren’t at the level he required.
On Pep Guardiola and Leaving Barcelona
This one doesn’t need any explaining, just read Eto’o’s statement on a transfer to Inter in 2009 (as quoted by ESPN)…
“I first of all reminded Guardiola that he’d never been a great player and, as a coach, he had proven nothing. He came in and didn’t even know the story of the dressing room. [He] never had the courage to say things in front of me.
“Xavi told me they wanted me to stay, but I had to talk to Pep. I say ‘never, if you do not respect me, I do not respect you’.
“Pep told me how to move like a striker. I told him: ‘You’re not normal!’ The true story is that Pep didn’t respect the things in football.”
Playing in an African World Cup
“I belong to Africa. I might live in Europe, but I sleep in Africa.” (Guardian)
The 2010 World Cup was awarded to South Africa and the entire continent was loving it. Finally, a tournament held in their backyard!
No one was more excited than Cameroon’s talisman, who would go on to score twice at the finals. The Lions may have been eliminated in the groups, but they would have been whipping boys without the exploits of Eto’o up top.
The Non-Monetary Reasons Behind an Abrupt Move to Russia
“It’s not a question of money because when you look at my career, I’ve won everything except for the World Cup. I only have one thing in mind — winning.” (CNN)
The illustrious European heavyweights that are Anzhi Makhachkala made Eto’o the world’s highest paid player in 2011, but it definitely wasn’t about the money.
25 goals across 53 fixtures in the Russian Premier League suggests the marksman’s thick wallet did nothing to dampen his hunger for the net. Still, £8.7m per season would probably motivate anyone, expect of course Alexis Sanchez.
When Jose Mourinho Doubted the Abilities of a 33-Year-Old
“I remain Samuel Eto’o, I will stay at my place and I will not answer.” (Evening Standard)
Eto’o wasn’t exactly prolific as he moved to England and entered the twilight of his career. Nevertheless, he made Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho eat his words in 2014 following jokes form the Portuguese about his age.
A treble versus Manchester United proved Eto’o could still do it, whilst his old man celebration against Tottenham well and truly put Mourinho in his place.
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