Saturday, December 25, 2010

Eto'o is Africa's lion again

Eto'o.If Alexander the Great conquered the known world and beyond by the age of 30, Samuel Eto'o has come pretty close on the football field. He has just been named African Footballer of the Year for a record fourth time and shows no signs of calling a halt to an already illustrious career.

At 29, the Cameroonian captain has a soccer CV most of us would die for.

He is his country's captain and record goalscorer and has represented Cameroon in three FIFA World Cups, won an Olympic Games gold medal and won two African Nations Cups with the Indomitable Lions, while participating in a further four. He remains the all-time top scorer in that tournament and has netted 52 times in 101 games for his nation.

His club resumé includes Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid and Eto'o has won the UEFA Champions League at all of them. This year he became the first footballer to win two continental trebles of league, cup and Champions League, having collected a clean sweep first at Barcelona and then at Inter.

Leaving Spain after five seasons and 171 strikes he joined José Mourinho at Inter in a swap deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and bagged 21 goals, not bad for an inaugural outing
in defence-heavy Serie A.

A string of other garlands include a purple year in 2006 when he became La Liga's top gunner and won the Man of the Match award in the Champions League final. Most recently, Eto'o scored in the FIFA World Club Cup final as Inter were crowned the best team on the planet, their Cameroonian ace receiving the Golden Ball.

A lithe runner blessed with turbo-charged heels, a quick-thinking footballing brain and a lethal shot, Eto'o has also had his fair share of knockers, from coaches, players and journalists who have questioned his attitude and priorities, to 'fans' bellowing racist abuse at him in Spain and Italy.

Yet like all great players, he answers his critics on the field of play, a perfect pitch for this indomitable lion of Africa.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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