Former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho believes Samuel Eto’o deserved to win the Ballon d’Or atleast once in his career.
Samuel Eto’o, who is now Cameroon Football Federation president, played under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, and Inter Milan where he won the treble with the Portuguese manager.
The now Roma coach during an interview with Cameroon Radio that dates back to September 2019, declared how surprising it is that Eto’o never won the Ballon d’Or
“It’s difficult to understand how Samuel Eto’o never won the Ballon d’Or with the impressive career he had” Mourinho said in an interview with Cameroon Radio.
“Samuel played for the best teams in the best leagues in the world. He scored an incredible amount of goals and was successful in different leagues.
“Eto’o played three champions league finals, winning two with Barcelona and scoring in both finals. He also won one champions league at Inter and won many league titles.
“He was the best striker in the world for several years and I think he deserved a Ballon d’Or but these are things out of our control.”
Samuel Eto’o won a record four African Player of the year awards, while his best placing in now defunct Fifa’s World Player of the Year award was third in 2005.
He finished 6th in the 2006 Ballon D’Or, which is the year he came closest to winning the award stats wise.
Samuel Eto’o was favorite to win the Ballon d’Or in 2006 heading into the World Cup, after an incredible season with FC Barcelona which he scored in the Champions League finals win against Arsenal, and also won the League, finishing as top scorer. But everything changed after the World Cup. Fabio Cannavaro who led Italy to the FIFA World Cup triumph with an incredible performance won the award that year. His team mate Gianguili Buffon finished second, while Thiery Henry, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Eto’o’s best ever Ballon D’Or finish came in 2009 after an incredible tremble with FC Barcelona. Lionel Messi won the award that year, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Iniesta finishing second, third and fourth respectively.
Jose Mourinho has coached many great African players before but he believes Eto’o was unique.
“Samuel’s career was very impressive and he was one of the best strikers in the world for many years,” Mourinho insisted.
“He’s an absolutely fantastic player and the most important thing for a footballer is his contribution to his team for victories.
“Samuel was a great individual player but was always a team player.
“He was always giving everything he could for his team to be successful. He is a trophy winner. Eto’o won all the important competitions and he had a very phenomenal career.
“He was almost an unstoppable player but his qualities as a man at some point became more important. He was a good colleague and he could do all for his team to win games.
“While at Inter we played Barcelona in the champions league semi-finals, we were with 10 men and Eto’o played the entire game almost at right back. He sacrificed himself for the team and played at the position to ensure we win.
“That’s what the team needed at that moment. In Milan we had won 3-1, going to Camp Nou, we didn’t need to score, we just needed to get to the final and he understood this. He did what was necessary for the team to go through to the final.
“These are great human qualities and I have no doubts Eto’o will be successful after retirement.”
Samuel Eto’o for played for 13 clubs in six countries, scoring 370 club goals. He scored 56 goals in 118 appearances for Cameroon