Samuel Eto’o has enjoyed footballing success all across the world. One of his generation’s greatest strikers, the Cameroonian international has played at the highest level in Spain, Italy, Russia, and England. With stints at Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Chelsea, and having competed at three world cups, he is a man who has just about seen it all in world football.
In a candid interview, the Chelsea player has recently come clean about his relationship with Pep Guardiola, under whom he played during his time at Barcelona:
“You know the press and the TV. There are those who are favourites and those who are not. I was one of the latter,”
“That was my role, but I had a very important role in the dressing room where I could say anything to anyone, looking them straight in the eye.”
“I first of all reminded Guardiola that he’d never been a great player. He was a good player, that’s true. I told him. As a coach, he had proven nothing. He came in and didn’t even know the story of the dressing room. I talked to him and had a very good offer to go and play for six months in Uzbekistan where they would have given me 26 million dollars. In his office, he said to me: ‘That could do you good, go for it.’
“I told him that Eto’o was the one who made him win and that he would come and ask for forgiveness. And I stayed. He never had the courage to say things to my face,” he added.
Having fallen out with his manager, Eto’o was sold to Inter Milan in a swap deal which brought Zlatan Ibrahimovich to the Camp Nou. The criticism from Eto’o comes at a time in which Guardiola is enjoying a remarkable run of success managing 1st placed Bundesliga side Bayern Munich.
With both Eto’o and Guardiola are often labelled with the ‘nice guy in football’ cliché, and both player and manager being incredibly successful, it’s hard to make sense of the rift. What is certain is that a possible Champions League encounters between Chelsea and Bayern Munich this season, will now have an added edge.