Whatever you say about Samuel Eto'o, he knows where the goal is. Cameroon's record marksman, Eto'o was a serial scorer for Mallorca and Barcelona before joining Inter Milan in the summer of 2009.
Work rate, aggression and an eye for goal are the key attributes of a player not afraid to voice his opinion and speak out against perceived injustices.
Eto'o is the only African to have scored in two Champions League finals, having lifted the trophy with Barcelona in 2006 and 2009.
Later that summer he was involved in one of the biggest ever swap deals when he moved to the San Siro and Zlatan Ibrahimovic went in the opposite direction. Barca coach Josep Guardiola had a 'feeling' that Eto'o was no longer right for Barca, but the player proved he still had plenty of mileage left in him as he helped Inter to the treble of Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia in his first season.
- Name: Samuel Eto'o Fils
- Nationality: Cameroonian
- Date and Place of Birth: March 10, 1981 in Nkon, Cameroon
- Position: Striker
- Current Club: Chelsea (Premier League)
- Previous Clubs: Real Madrid (1997-2000), Leganes (1997-1998, on loan), Espanyol (1999, on loan) Mallorca (2000-2004, loan and permanent deal), Barcelona (2004-2009), Inter Milan (2009-2011), Anzhi Makhachkala (2011-2013)
- International Career: 1996 to present
Breakthrough at Mallorca:After joining Real Madrid in 1997 and playing with the B team, Eto'o was loaned to Leganes and then Espanyol. He failed to find his goalscoring groove with the former, and didn't even play for the latter.
It was Mallorca where he really hit his stride, and would become the club's all-time leading goalscorer in domestic soccer. He helped guide them to the Champions League for the first time in the club's history in 2001 when they finished third in the league, a staggering feat for the modest Balearic club.
He also helped the club to the Copa del Rey in 2003, the only major trophy the islanders have ever won.
Eto'o's pace and finishing was a real asset for a Mallorca team filled with competent players, but few stars. However, he would move on to even greater things when Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard brought him to Camp Nou in 2004.
Prolific in Barcelona:
Barca won the league title in Eto'o's first season at the club, with his 24 goals a vital contribution to this achievement. His 26 league strikes the following season saw him edge out Valencia's David Villa for the Pichichi (top scorer) award as Barca again won the title. His late goal against Arsenal in Paris also put the Catalans on the way to their second European Cup triumph, Juliano Belletti scoring the other as Barca prevailed 2-1.
The following two seasons provided slimmer pickings, but only because of injury. His goals-to-games ratio remained high. In the 2008/09 campaign he finished the season with 34 goals in all competition as Barca won every trophy going.
Trophies Galore Under Mourinho:
Eto’o scored 15 goals in all competitions in his first season at Inter. The selfless role that he filled for Jose Mourinho on the right of the Inter midfield – Diego Milito was the first-choice striker - meant leaner times in that 2009/10 season, but his defensive contribution was vital as Inter swept all before them.
Thirty-four goals in the 2010/11 campaign provided a more accurate reflection of Eto’o’s goalscoring abilities but with Mourinho gone, Inter could not match their achievements of the previous season, although Eto’o scored in both the FIFA Club World Cup and Coppa Italia finals.
Stint in Russia
Eto'o became the highest paid player in world soccer after moving to Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011, with a salary of €20 million (after taxes) per season.
Thirty-two goals over two seasons domestically and in Europe was a respectable return, but when Anzhi's billionaire owner Suleiman Kerimov made the surprise decision to scale down the club's budget in 2014, Eto'o was always likely to be on his way, and signed for Chelsea for an undisclosed fee.
Reunited with Mourinho
Mourinho, Eto'o's coach at Inter, had returned to Chelsea for a second stint, meaning the player who had performed with such distinction on the right hand side for the San Siro club, was reunited with his old mentor.
At 32, Eto'o had lost the pace which had made him such a menace in Spain and Italy, but he nonetheless scored some vital goals in big matches, notably against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United as Chelsea challenged for the Premier League title until the final week of the season.
Eto'o's career has been punctuated by training ground spats, fall-outs with team-mates, altercations with reporters and even a threat to walk off in the middle of a game. But he brings a new meaning to the word 'wholehearted' and while many opposition fans love to hate him, he never gives less than his all when turning out for club or country.
Amazingly Eto'o, whose idol is Nelson Mandela, first played for Cameroon when he was 14 against Costa Rica. His appearance against Italy at the 1998 World Cup made him the youngest participant in the competition at just 17 years and three months.
Eto'o won the 2000 and 2002 African Nations Cups with Cameroon, and was a gold medallist at the 2000 Olympics. He also scored one goal at the 2002 World Cup, against Saudi Arabia.
He was the top scorer at the 2006 Nations Cup, but missed the decisive penalty in a 12–11 shoot-out loss to Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals.
Eto’o captained Cameroon at the 2010 World Cup but the Indomitable Lions failed to live up to their name, bowing out in the group stages. Eto’o did find the net against Denmark and Holland, but Cameroon finished bottom without a point.
With three African Player of the Year awards and his position cemented as Nations Cup top scorer, Eto'o will go down as a legend of the African game.