[CamerExcellence] – Exceptional footballer, SAMUEL ETO’O has shone on pitches all over the world and has distinguished himself in the fight against racism.
After an incredible 22-year career as an international footballer, Samuel Eto’o is one of the most successful African players. Throughout his distinguished career, he has been known on and off the field for being a compelling character, a strong leader, and a humanitarian.
Now retired, he has redirected his passion for the game to causes close to his heart and is a leading voice for anti-racism in sport and a figurehead for Africa. As Cameroon’s top scorer, he is immensely proud of his legacy and aspires to ensure that disadvantaged youth in Cameroon and beyond could succeed themselves. This is one of the projects he has been carrying out since his election in December 2021 as president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot).
WHERE HE STARTED…
An enchanting aspect of Samuel’s story is the beginning. From a young age, he had a champion’s mindset that would see him take incredible steps to achieve his dream of becoming a footballer. As a young teenager, he travelled to Paris as an undocumented migrant on a ten-day visa, determined to join a football club. This time, however, he failed, but decided not to give up and trained harder at his national club. The moment that changed everything came when he was playing for a national team and a coach invited him to play for Real Madrid.
INCREDIBLE FOOTBALL CAREER
Samuel Eto’o’s football career is marked by unprecedented achievements. He was a powerful striker, described as having a rainbow of abilities. He was fast, dynamic, skilful and creative, and was known as a deadly finisher. His career took off in Spain with Mallorca where he scored over 50 goals and became the club’s top scorer in the Spanish La Liga. Eto’o joined Barcelona just as the club was rising to the top. He scored over 100 league goals in just 5 seasons. With Barcelona and then Inter Milan the following season, he won a European continental treble – the first player to do so. And it is a feat that remains unmatched.
After his stint with Spanish clubs, he became the highest-paid player in the world when he played for the Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. Before retiring, Eto’o also played in England, notably for Everton and Chelsea, where he scored a hat-trick in a Premier League match against Manchester United. Internationally, Eto’o played for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and became their top scorer.
He was African Footballer of the Year for three consecutive years, four times in total, and was part of the team that won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the African Cup of Nations trophy in 2000 and 2002.
Eto’o’s career is not only marked by his achievements. He became a voice that challenged and denounced racism in the game. Eto’o has become a role model for young black footballers who are guided by the way Eto’o has behaved throughout his career. He continues to be a leading voice in exposing the racism that still affects not only football but society today.
In 2013, he published a children’s book about his youth and career entitled: Samuel Eto’o: Birth of a Champion. Samuel teamed up with Cameroonian artist Joelle Esso to create the comic book about how a boy from the backstreets of Douala became one of the most successful international football players in the world. The book’s message represents what Eto’o wants to convey to all African children and young people: with passion and dedication, you can achieve your dreams.
Now retired, he is still passionate about the game and is currently an ambassador for FIFA’s Road to Qatar campaign for the 2022 World Cup.
“You have to understand that football is just a reflection of society,” says Samuel Eto’o
AWARDS, TROPHIES AND HONOURS
Eto’o has been recognized for his incredible professional achievements on and off the football field and has won several awards. He has received the European Medal of Tolerance for his fight against racism in football. A four-time African player of the year, Eto’o is one of the most decorated footballers in the world.
In his 22-year career, he has played in four World Cups and six African Nations Cups, won the UEFA Champions League three times and, in 2009, was voted the 5th best player in the world by FIFA.
THE SAMUEL ETO’O FOUNDATION
Determined to champion the rights of young people, Eto’o established the Samuel Eto’o Foundation in 2006 to raise awareness of the issues facing the African continent.
Operating primarily in West Africa, the Foundation prioritizes the protection of young people through the provision of emergency relief, education, healthcare, and social inclusion initiatives, giving young people the vision to imagine a better future for themselves and their communities. A major achievement of the foundation was the funding of the pediatric ward at Laquintinie Hospital in Douala. It was opened on 8 May 2017, includes 48 beds for emergency and resuscitation, phototherapy, dietary service, and several consultation blocks. The foundation also financed the provision of ten ambulances for the Cameroonian Ministry of Health.
In 2020, in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the foundation acted by distributing food and supplies to those in need. The Foundation includes a football academy that has produced 18 professional footballers, nine of whom play for the Cameroonian senior national team, including goalkeeper André Onana, who has been named by FIFA as the 5th best goalkeeper in the world and the best African goalkeeper for the past two years.
By Assongmo NECDEM
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