Is Samuel Eto’o the world’s greatest striker?

Massimo Cebrelli/Stringer/Getty Images

For many teams these days scoring goals is hard work, unless of course, you have Samuel Eto’o on your side.  The Cameroon striker played an influential role in lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy for FC Barcelona in 2006 and 2009.

Eto’o scored in both Finals; his contribution to Barça since joining the club back in 2004 could be described as immense.  Yet the number 9’s time was up.  No longer wanted at Barça, Eto’o was part of an incredible swap deal this European summer which saw him move to Milan’s, FC Internazionale with Zlatan Ibrahimović going the other way.

It was well-publicised that Eto’o had no plans to leave the Nou Camp but his coach, Pep Guardiola decided that a swoop for Ibrahimović was too good to refuse.  What made the deal perplexing was the transfer plus cash arrangement – Barça made Ibrahimović the second highest-paid footballer in the world (behind Cristiano Ronaldo) – reportedly valued at a total of €69 million.

At the time of the transfer, debate was raging over which club got the better deal; most said Inter by a long shot.  Inter lost a creative and domineering striker with a huge ego and bags of talent but they gained the same in return.  There was no net loss, pardon the pun.

It’s no surprise that Inter coach, José Mourinho wanted Eto’o.  In 200 appearances for Barça, he scored an amazing 130 goals.  His medal cabinet holds three league titles, two Champions Leagues and one Copa del Rey (the Spanish Cup).  He was voted the ‘Best Forward’ in the Champions League and although winning the treble last season, his best offering was in 2006 when he finished as Spain’s top goal scorer.

Mourinho’s desire to attract Eto’o was not only for his goal scoring attributes, he is a striker that leads from the front.  He will work hard, tackle, track-back and do more than he needs to for the team.  He, like his new coach, is a winner.

Inter also signed Diego Milito from Genoa this season; his partnership with Eto’o rivals any in world football at the moment.  Eto’o has started brilliantly for Inter over the first five rounds scoring his debut Serie A goal from the penalty-spot.  His curling strike against Parma and tap-in against Napoli this week gives him a total of three in five.  Inter fans just love him, Zlatan?

Who would have known the skinny teenage striker in Cameroon’s 2000 Olympic Games gold medal winning team would turn out to be such a phenomenal player?  I was present that sunny Sydney day at Stadium Australia when the ‘Indomitable Lions’ defeated Spain on penalties in the Final, fighting back from 2-0 down.  I can distinctly remember the announcer, Lex Marinos (yeah, the ‘bloody wog’ from Kingswood Country), saying the ‘o’ in Eto’o so it would reverberate around the stadium.

This season, names like Drogba, Anelka, Torres, Rooney, Adebayor, Forlán and Ibrahimović are being mentioned amongst the best strikers in the world.  Each has stiff competition.  Eto’o is up there as a contender, he’d be disappointed with any less than 30 goals for Inter this season.

Winning the Serie A title will not be enough for Eto’o, he will want to show his coach that he’s the champion of all champions and win Inter that Champions League trophy the club has been so desperate to claim for over, well, since they last won it back in the mid-60’s.

Since making his debut for his country at just 14 years of age, he’s become the leading goal scorer of all-time.  His greatness is unquestionable, his pride and passion for the game is on display in every match.

Eto’o has a point to prove to Guardiola, who threw him in the ‘too hard basket’ prior to the start of pre-season training.  Eto’o wants retribution and I wouldn’t doubt his ambition for a minute.


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