CFC fans who lament the club unfortunately missing out on signing Samuel Eto’o the last time it was seemingly possible in 2006 have their wish now the iconic Cameroonian wears a blue shirt and calls West London home. It would be nigh on ridiculous to argue that if Eto’o had signed for CFC when he was strongly linked seven years ago he wouldn’t have scored a vast amount of goals at important times, contributed heavily and added to the successes of the club during the period. This is now a moot point and consigned to history.
By bringing Eto’o from the Republic of Dagestan back to elite European football CFC have added an undoubted living, playing legend of the game to the Stamford Bridge roster. The move will certainly be proven to have a detrimental effect on any team and defender that calls CFC an opponent over the forthcoming season and ideally beyond. At the age of 32 the typical questions will be asked of Eto’o as they have been of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba et al during their post-30 years at CFC. Like Drogba and Lampard have done consistently I am sure Eto’o will silence any critics with performance over the coming months.
Without generalising and backing up theory with example one reason to disbelief any age related comments regarding Eto’o is the physicality and stamina that serves players whom herald from the continent of Africa well in the twilight of their careers. Especially in the Premier League. Without constantly referring back to Drogba and his phenomenal exploits for the club in the victorious assault on the Champions League in 2012 throughout which Drogba terrorised the best defences in Europe at age thirty four there are numerous other examples of African players who seem to enjoy their career peak years at a later stage than their European counterparts.
Jay Jay Okocha was a revelation at the Reebok Stadium until he was well into his thirties when he arrived from Paris Saint-Germain and Nwanko Kanu was successful not only at Arsenal but was hugely popular during his veteran years as part of Portsmouth’s FA Cup winning team in 2008. Tony Yeboah is also more than worthy of mention in this respect. Yeboah spent his final peak years as a Premier League cult hero, rightly so as he was the rare combination of a great goalscorer and the scorer of great goals for Leeds United. Finally and by no means least two legendary figures born in Africa (regardless of eventual French allegiance international football-wise) that have woven their names indelibly into the rich tapestry that is CFC’s modern history are Marcel Desailly and Claude Makalélé. Neither need an introduction. Both arrived at CFC at points of their careers that some might term the veteran stage. Both joined CFC, much like Eto’o, having achieved much domestically and on the continent for their previous major European clubs. Both had a monumental impact and were vital to the successes of CFC in their respective eras. The omens for Eto’o are good.
Eto’o has joined CFC as a player with his name etched in elite football folklore who has been followed by success through his career. He is the only player in history to win the treble, (domestic league, cup and Champions League) leave the treble winners moving leagues and countries at the end of season only to repeat the exact same feat the following year. This is of course in reference to his final year with FC Barcelona and his maiden season with José Mourinho’s Internazionale during the period 2008-10. All of this with the backdrop of Eto’o's transfer which saw Barcelona lose their Champions League final goalscorer and €46m to secure the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Massimo Moratti’s self-proclaimed best piece of business as Inter premier. It is not a surprise that upon joining forces in Milan Eto’o realised he and Mourinho are kindred spirits – born winners. The player’s introduction into the CFC side should serve to inject a hunger adding to that already in place. The added competition for Fernando Torres and Demba Ba should spur both on to higher levels of performance. This was evident in Torres’ Capital One Cup display at Swindon.
The CV of Samuel Eto’o is too extensive to detail fully. Needless to say he is the most decorated African football player in history. Aside from his trophy cabinet and records held at club level Eto’o has won African footballer of the year a record four times and has achieved much for his native Cameroon at international level. Eto’o is the leading goalscorer in the history of the African Cup of Nations, his goal tally standing at 18 having won the tournament twice. His heroic image in his homeland is owed in part to his status as Cameroon’s most capped player and highest goal scorer with 112 appearances and 55 goals. Eto’o has used his remarkable career and subsequent high profile, especially in Africa, to give back to those struggling on the continent by establishing the Samuel Eto’o Private Foundation. The non-profit organisation was founded in 2006 and operates predominantly in West Africa having its head office in Douala, Cameroon while also having two offices in Spain where Eto’o holds a passport thanks to his many years working in the country.
Broadly speaking the aim of the Samuel Eto’o Private Foundation is the protection of children and young people, provision of emergency aid and encouraging education and health throughout Africa. The projects in which the foundation engages are relied upon and offer remedies to the huge issues faced in region. This is very much a noble cause. Of course the contribution of the foundation is not likely to be the first point made by journalists and the like when discussing Eto’o's fictional selfishness and divisive tendencies in a football dressing room.
Having accomplished so much on and off the field since beginning his career as a professional footballer all that remains for Eto’o is to win his fourth Champions League with CFC and further elevate himself as an immortal legend of game and beyond.
Thanks for reading and keep the blue flag flying high. Written by Dean Evans, you can follow him on Twitter here
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