Samuel Eto’o is the most successful African footballer of all time. The Cameroon striker has won three Champions League medals and several domestic titles in Spain and Italy.
He played over 100 games for Cameroon helped them win the African Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002, and the Olympic gold in 2000. He was named African Player of the Year four times.
Teenager at Real Madrid
He started his career in Europe with Spanish giants, Real Madrid in 1997. He trained with Real’s B team but went out on loan to second division club, CD Leganes when Real B were relegated.
Even though he was only 16 when he joined, he played 30 games for Leganes and scored four goals during two seasons with the club.
Eto’o got his first taste of top level Spanish football when he joined Mallorca on loan in 2000. He was still a teenager but he showed he was capable of performing at the highest level by scoring six goals in 19 games.
He joined the club on a permanent basis the following season. Mallorca paid £4.4m for Eto’o and he soon became a fans’ favourite.
As well as scoring 11 goals in his first season, he helped the club reach the Copa del Rey final. He spent €30,000 on food for all Mallorca fans who traveled to support them in the final. To top it off, he scored twice as Mallorca won 3-0.
Eto’o enjoyed his time in Mallorca and had a good relationship with the fans. He said: “I like it here in Mallorca; I have always been well looked after, the fans appreciate me.”
Controversial off field incidents
However, he also had a volatile personality and caused controversy when he allegedly threatened to kill a journalist and his former agent.
His former agent said that Eto’o and his friends had assaulted him and removed his shoes, which symbolises a death threat in Cameroon.
Despite the off field incidents, Eto’o had made a name for himself with his performances in La Liga. In four years he scored 48 goals in 120 games.
He became Mallorca’s all time top scorer in the top flight and was named African Player of the Year in 2003. He was beginning to attract attention from Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Real Madrid wanted to sign the striker but they already had three non EU players so would have had to sell one of them.
Eto’o decided Barcelona would be a better place for him to further his career as Real wanted to sign him and then loan him out.
He joined Barcelona in 2004 for a fee of €24m. In his first season, he helped them win their first title for six years. He was also named African Player of the Year for the second time.
The following year, Eto’o helped Barcelona retain their La Liga title. He was the top scorer in the league with 26 goals.
Winning the Champions League – Read more