Samuel Eto'o: One of the Greatest African Footballers of All Time

Illustrated by Jeannette Khouri

Samuel Eto'o Fils is a former Cameroonian player and the current president of the Cameroonian Football Federation since December 11, 2021. Eto'o was elected president of FECAFOOT to manage affairs of the football governing body for four years.

At his peak, critics regarded Eto'o as one of the world's best strikers. He is also considered one of the greatest African players, winning the African Player of the Year award four times in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010

The former striker is in charge of delivering the latest AFCON tournament in his home country, which got underway last Sunday and will continue till February 6, with 24 nations taking part.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) faced criticism over the timing of its continental championship, and it had last month to address rumors the tournament would be further delayed following the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

With the start of the tournament, English football legend Ian Wright has criticized the coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations, claiming that the coverage has been tinged with racism

Wright's message was noted by Samuel Eto'o. He wrote on Twitter: "Respect Ian Wright! There's no greater honor for a sportsperson than representing your country. The Africa Cup of Nations is a celebration of African pride, and next week's AFCON will once more prove the undeniable greatness of African Players.

Eto'o was born on March 10, 1981, in Douala, Cameroon, to the couple David Eto'o, who worked as an accountant, and Christine Eto'o, who worked as a fishmonger

In 1996, he traveled to France to try out for a French soccer club, but he could not because of administrative problems and lack of proper documentation. He returned to Cameroon and joined the Kadji Sports Academy, based in Douala, the economic capital and the main port of Cameroon, where he was seen by the club's coaches. A few months later, he was called back to France to participate in Le Havre and Saint-Etienne training

As a promising talent, Eto'o moved to Real Madrid at sixteen. He was competing with more experienced players and got several loan spells before signing with Mallorca in 2000, scoring 70 goals. His impressive performance made him join Barcelona in 2004, where he scored 130 goals in five seasons and became the record holder for the most participation by African players in La Liga.

After winning the league three times, he was a key player in Barcelona's attack, along with Ronaldinho. Eto'o scored in the final when they won the 2005–06 Champions League. He also was part of the attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry when they won the 2008 -09 Champions League, and he scored again in the final.

He is the second player in history to score in two Champions League finals. In Barcelona, Eto'o won third place in the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year award, and he was named to the FIFA annual 'FIFPRO' squad in 2005 and 2006

In 2010, he signed with Inter Milan, where he became the first player to win the treble in two consecutive years and two different teams with Barcelona and Inter, respectively. He is the fourth player in the history of the Champions League, after Marcel Desailly, Paulo Sousa, and Gerard Pique, to win the tournament in two consecutive years with two different teams.

After short contracts with Anji Makhachkala, Chelsea, Everton, and Sampdoria, Eto'o played in the Turkish Super League, where he scored 44 goals in 76 leagues with Antalyaspor. In 2015, he was awarded the Golden Foot Award. He signed for Qatar FC in August 2018, a year before his retirement. In February 2019, he said he wanted to continue playing for another year. On September 7, 2019, Eto'o announced his retirement from football.

As a player in the Cameroon national team, Eto'o was part of the team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. He also won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002. Eto'o has participated in four World Cup tournaments and six Africa Cup of Nations. He is the all-time top scorer of the African Nations Cup, with 18 goals, the historical scorer for Cameroon, and the third most participating player, with 56 goals in 118 international matches.

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