Monday, May 5, 2008
It's obvious to anyone that follows the Beautiful Game that Samuel Eto'o is one of the greatest strikers of all-time.
While it hasn't been the best of seasons for the Barcelona striker, the Indomitable Lion can at least be content with establishing himself as the African player with the most La Liga games to his name.
He's had a host of troubles while in Spain.
He's been the object of racist taunts. He called Real Madrid fans derogatory names after winning the Spanish title with Barcelona. He's been deemed a clubhouse 'cancer' by teammates and journalists.
But through it all, he's persevered and scored at an amazing pace, winning plaudits and championships along the way.
Eto'o spent 70 minutes on the pitch in Barca's 6-0 demolition of Valencia yesterday.
MY POV: For more about this game and more ranting about my beloved club Valencia, please check out my Valencia blog ...
Although he didn't add to his tally of 14 goals this season, he notched up his 242nd appearance in the Spanish first division.
He takes the 'record' from his compatriot Thomas N'kono, who wore the gloves for Barcelona's neighbors Espanyol in 241 games between 1982 and 1989.
Eto'o has played 106 games for the Catalan club since arriving at Barcelona in the summer of 2004.
In addition, he played three times for Real Madrid at the start of his career before moving to Real Mallorca for five seasons and 133 matches.
The question now is, how many more La Liga games will Eto'o play?
MY POV: I think he's gone after this season. Barca have seriously under-performed and many are blaming Eto'o and a lackluster Ronaldinho for their demise.
Barcelona have three games remaining this season, including a trip to bitter rivals and Spanish champions Real Madrid on Wednesday.
But Eto'o himself will be suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card against Valencia.
MY POV: Seems convenient that Eto'o picked up a yellow card ahead of Wednesday's Classico.
Now, Eto'o won't have to stand in line and salute the champions as per Spanish tradition, the pasillo, where the opposing team stands and claps for the champions.
"I did not know that if I was booked I would miss the game on Wednesday," he said. "I did not deserve it anyway and am angry that I cannot play in the game. It is always a great occasion and I did not want to miss it. I hope that they will look at it and take the card away."
There have been strong rumors in recent months that Eto'o may move during the summer,
with Italy's Serie A or the English Premiership being the most likely destinations.
MY POV: My money's on England. Chelsea, anyone??
However, Eto'o has been at pains to dismiss speculation about his departure.
"I want to carry on here next season. I have a contract here until 2010 and I think I'm going to see it out," said Eto'o last week.
"When you look at all the players we've got, I think we can go on to win further titles. I believe in this team. This season hasn't been either so good or so bad but I wouldn't use the word 'fiasco' that has appeared in the media."
Despite not winning anything with Barcelona this season, Eto'o has still achieved a stunning array of honors with his various clubs.
He won Champions League winners' medals in 2000 and 2006, with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively although he didn't play in the final when he was at his former club.
MY POV: Thankfully. Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 in Paris in the 2000 Champions League final. If Eto'o played, it might have been 6-0 ...
The three-time African Player of the Year was part of the Barcelona teams that won the Spanish league title in 2005 and 2006.
He was also the Spanish first division's leading scorer in 2006 (the Pichichi), becoming the first African player to achieve such an accolade, and won the 2003 Spanish Cup while at Mallorca.
MY POV: There's no doubt Eto'o is a special talent. He's been through a lot in Spain and has always played exceptionally well.
But I do think his time in Barcelona is up. The squad needs major upgrading and Eto'o will likely look for new challenges.
A trip to England awaits ... stay tuned!