In search of further glory

It will be yet another chapter in a colourful career for Samuel Eto’o, who has been playing at the highest level since 1998, writes Andrew McDermott.

He completed the treble in Spain. He then completed the treble in Italy. Now Samuel Eto’o has moved to England and is looking to add to his incredible trophy collection.

Few players in world football can match the honours that the Cameroon international has achieved and, having been reunited with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, it would be a brave man that writes off Eto’o’s chances of further glory.

Whatever happens at Stamford Bridge, it will be yet another chapter in a colourful career for the 32-year-old, who has been playing at the highest level since 1998 when he featured at the World Cup in France aged just 17.

He had already signed for Real Madrid’s youth academy a year earlier and had loan spells at Leganes and Espanyol before he made a breakthrough during a loan move to Real Mallorca in January 2000.

It was there that he began to shine at a senior level as six goals in 19 appearances persuaded the club to smash their transfer record and pay GBP4.4 million to make the move permanent. He also figured in the national team that won the African Nations Cup in February as Cameroon beat Nigeria in a penalty shoot-out.

More success on the big stage followed in September that year as Eto’o scored from open play and added a penalty in the shoot-out of the 2000 Olympic Games final as Cameroon beat Spain to take the gold medal.

Another African Nations Cup triumph followed in 2002, with a shoot-out again required to beat Senegal. Eto’o scored two late goals to help Mallorca beat Recreativo de Huelva in the 2003 Copa del Rey final.

By the summer of 2004, Eto’o was Mallorca’s leading league goal-scorer of all time and the race was on for his signature. Real Madrid tried to re-sign their former youngster but it was their bitter rivals Barcelona who instead paid GBP21 million to take him to the Nou Camp.

The Catalan giants got an immediate return on their investment as Eto’o netted 25 goals in 37 games to help them win the Primera Division, success which helped him finish third in the FIFA World Player of the Year voting.

Another 26 goals ensured Barca retained their title in 2006 and they were then crowned champions of Europe after a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in Paris, with Eto’o scoring the equaliser.

It got even better in the 2008/9 season as Barcelona achieved an historic League, Cup and UEFA Champions League treble. Eto’o scored 30 league goals and also netted as Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 in Rome to land their European title.

That proved to be his final game for the club though and he was soon on his way to Italy on a five-year contract as part of a deal which saw Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic head in the opposite direction.

He soon began to make his mark at the San Siro and scored in a victory against his future employers Chelsea during Inter’s progress to the Champions League final.

Mourinho’s men also won the Serie A title and Coppa Italia and when they then beat Bayern Munich to lift the European Cup, Eto’o became the first player to achieve a second successive treble.

The 2010/11 season did not bring as much team success — Inter had to settle for retaining Coppa Italia — but Eto’o ended the campaign with another 37 goals.

He was only two years into his five-year deal when his stay in Italy was cut short by the mega bucks on offer in Russia as he joined big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala, reputedly on a world-record salary worth an annual GBP17 million after tax.

The bid to turn the club into a dominant force failed though and the writing was on the wall for Eto’o when Anzhi chose to rein in their spending this year.

With Mourinho beginning a new era at Chelsea and in the hunt for a prolific striker, the pair was reunited after Chelsea were forced to abandon their pursuit of Wayne Rooney. “It wasn’t a hard decision,” said Eto’o after agreeing on a one-year contract. “I saw the qualities Chelsea have, and I was very happy with Jose Mourinho before, so when the opportunity came, I was very happy to take it.”

Some critics believe his best days are behind him but with Mourinho being tipped to bring the glory days back to Chelsea, Eto’o could still have more major honours coming his way.

Eto’o was regularly subjected to racial abuse during his time in Spain and decided to stop taking his family to matches. He married former model Georgette in July 2007. His extensive collection of cars includes a Bugatti Veyron — reported to be the world’s most expensive car.

FACTFILE Name: Samuel Eto’o Position: Striker Country: Cameroon Club: Chelsea DOB: March 10, 1981 International caps: 112 International goals: 55

Moment to remember: Won the African Player of the Year award for a record fourth time in 2010.

Moment to forget: Refused to come on as substitute for Barcelona in a league match against Racing Santander in February 2007.

© PA Sport, 2013, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.