LYON – Former Cameroonian international Samuel Eto’o was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Lyon Business School for his work in his native county, Cameroon and in Africa in general.
The star shared his ambitions for the future of African football with a number out media outlets, concluding that it was his dream for an African team to win a World Cup trophy.
The 40-year old – Eto’o said: “It has been my wish for an African team to win a World Cup. But to win, we must believe and give ourselves the means to achieve it and that is a long way.
“We know that for now, we must lay the foundation and hope that African players continue taking up the leading roles in the best European clubs.
“I don’t see why we can’t make sure that these players feel good in their respective national teams and together with their teammates, they can give their best.
“What has really impressed me in the last five years is the construction of stadiums in Cameroon. We have the most beautiful stadiums in the world today and I am proud of that and I have to talk about it.
Eto’o said that one of the most important aspects of his life was the African continent – emphasizing that it was because ‘that’s where he belongs.’
He briefly expressed hope that African governments would manage well the covid-19 pandemic well so as to register fewer casualties for the betterment of the continent.
But who is Eto’o?
Samuel Eto’o Fils is a 40-year-old former striker. He was born in Douala, Cameroon and played for a grand total of 13 different clubs but perhaps most famously for Mallorca, Barcelona and Inter Milan. He racked up 764 games in total, scoring a mighty 371 times and only hung-up his boots for good in 2019
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, winning the African Player of the Year a record four times: in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010. And he was one of the best strikers of his generation in world football.
He got an early start as a 16-year-old at Real Madrid who loaned him to Leganes for a season, then Espanyol, and then Mallorca. This is where he started to really hit the straps. After scoring six in 13 on loan, he signed for the 2000-01 season for a club record £4.4 million. By the time he left, four years later, he was the club’s all-time leading domestic league scorer with 54 goals and 70 in 165 games in total.
Barcelona paid £24million for him and he hit the ground running, scoring 63 in his first 92 games across two seasons. The period between 2006 to 2008 was interrupted by a recurrent meniscus mangling but he still managed 31 in 55 games, all the same.
The 2008-09 season was his final year at Barcelona and it was his best. He played 52 games and scored 36 goals. Thirty in 36 in the league. He totalled 199 games and 130 goals and he left with two Champions League winner’s medals, three league titles and a Copa del Rey, winning a Treble in his last season.
He was sold to Inter Milan in exchange for Zlatan, plus €46million. He only played for them for two full seasons, scored 53 in 102 and won a haul of trophies: the 2009/10 Serie A; two Coppas Italia (2010 and 2011); the Supercoppa Italiana (2010); the 2010 Champions League: 2009–10; and the 2010 Fifa Club World Cup. He became the first player to win two European Continental Trebles with Barcelona and Inter. Back-to-back Trebles at that!
An antithetical relationship with Mourinho turned to love in the end as the Portuguese realised he’d been wrong about a player he was initially dismissive of.
At this point Samuel was 30 and I don’t think it is too harsh to say he began a long farewell tour picking up large amounts of cash from a number of clubs.
The first of these was the newly minted Anzhi Makhachkala who got his services for a little more than two campaigns. He signed a three-year deal that made him the world’s highest-paid player, with a salary of €20million net per season.
He filled his boots with goals again with 36 in 73 games before jumping ship to Chelsea after the Anzhi owner put everyone on big money up for sale.
He was at Stamford Bridge for a year (12 goals in 35 games) and an especially weird few months at Everton where he declared he wanted to win the Europa League with them, but couldn’t wait to get out and spend the second half of the season at Sampdoria, before then finding himself in Turkey at Antalyaspor for three seasons. He netted 44 in 77 games, then moved for a season to Konyaspor. His last campaign 2018-19 was 23 games and 10 goals for, somewhat inevitably, Qatar SC.
It was a lucrative and goal-rich last eight years but one which saw him win not a single trophy and as a result, his brilliant previous 10 years had the shine taken off it a little.
However, his international career saw him become the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations with 18 goals, and he is Cameroon’s record goalscorer and third most-capped player with 56 in 118 games.