Speaking in an interview with Marca, former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o discussed several topics looking back over his career.
On the return of La Liga
As always, If Barcelona win, everything is great for me. I know there is a game coming up between Mallorca and Barcelona, the two teams of my heart. I won’t be able to attend, but I’ll watch on television to support them both.
On being a Barcelona fan
I don’t have any problem with Real Madrid, they gave me the opportunity to dream of being a footballer. I didn’t have the chance to play at Real Madrid. I had success elsewhere and the Cule feeling came through. I’m grateful to all of those who helped me to have that feeling and I don’t forget the five or six years I spent at the Ciudad Condal. In the first two or three years, we played football like a team on the PlayStation. We were a group of friends who wanted to be together to have a good time on and off the pitch. When you have a team like that, with the quality we had, success is assured.
On becoming a coach
I don’t think about what I’m going to do between now and in a year’s time. I only think about tomorrow, helping my daughter to finish her homework because I haven’t always had the chance to do it. I have disconnected a bit and I focus on my family. This way I can prepare myself for this future life.
On the current Barcelona team and Messi
Leo is the best player in the world and the best of all time. I’d always pick the team asking Messi who he wanted next to him, in his team. Every team in the world wants Messi. Then, you have to give him support. He can’t run like a 25-year-old kid anymore, although he does sometimes. What we have to do as Barcelona fans is give him the best team in the world to keep enjoying him. He has to play until he’s 70 so that we can enjoy him more.
On Pep Guardiola
I stick to what I said, and I’m not the only person who has said it. My experience with Pep at Barcelona was what it was, but on a personal level it wasn’t what we hoped for. Many players have said the same about him. As a coach, Pep prepares games like nobody else. How he coached us in 2009 was incredible, his way of seeing attacking football, control, having the ball, rondos, Pep was the best at that. As a player, you had the feeling that you didn’t run much, although you did, because you were enjoying it. They are specific techniques for those of us who love good football. For me, football is feeling like you’re in a theatre, and seeing tikitaka, passing the ball, it’s not the only way to win but its special. It’s Pep’s way.
On Xavi as future Barca boss
I already said to Xavi not long ago: ‘You have to go back to Barcelona while Leo is still there‘, because with him it would all be easier. Xavi is a natural leader who knows how to manage emotions and, what’s more, he’s a very good guy. He’s up front, he understands football and I insisted: ‘Legend, you have to go back and try to do something with Messi still there.’
On never winning the Ballon d’Or
It never made me angry not to win it, because it’s a question of people’s opinions. That said, it’s disappointing for me that Andres Iniesta never won it. In an interview when I came to Barcelona, they asked me which player had caught my attention and I said Iniesta. There were 70 or 80 journalists in the room and they looked at me like I was crazy. Well, years later, they saw I was right.
On Jose Mourinho
Jose is, firstly, a friend. He’s a person who’s straightforward and when he doesn’t like something, he tells you. We both have strong temperaments and we understood each other well. He’s one of the best people I have met in football. People try to present him as controversial, but it’s a lie. What happens is that life, and football, is hypocritical and they prefer that to having honest people. Mou is a top guy. The other thing is that he only cares about the result. It’s his way of seeing football and in that sense he is the number one. Beating him at his game is impossible, you can never beat him. He’s a winner and a born leader. He spoke to you with the right words. He’s great.