Jose Mourinho has said it is “difficult to understand” how Samuel Eto’o failed to win the Ballon d’Or during his celebrated playing career.
Eto’o, who retired earlier this week at the age of 38, made over 300 combined appearances for Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea.
How good was Eto’o? Five things to know…
- Eto’o finished his career with 370 goals in 759 club appearances across all competitions.
- With Barcelona, he scored 130 goals in 199 games and won eight major trophies.
- And at Inter he won six major honours and found the net 52 times in 103 appearances.
- He was less prolific during spells with Chelsea and Everton after a stint at Anzhi in Russia.
- Eto’o also won the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon in 2000 and 2002.
He enjoyed the most successful spell of his career with the latter two clubs, winning the Champions League three times and four domestic titles in Spain and Italy.
Mourinho managed the Cameroonian at Inter and later in his career at Chelsea. The pair won the Italian domestic treble together at Inter in 2009/10.
But Eto’o never managed to win the Ballon d’Or, which something Mourinho has taken issue with.
“It’s difficult to understand how Samuel Eto’o never won the Ballon d’Or with the impressive career he had,” Mourinho said.
“He 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.”
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Why didn’t Eto’o win the Ballon d’Or?
Eto’o was perhaps unfortunate to be at his best during moments when other renowned footballers were playing at the top level.
When he scored in the 2005/06 Champions League final and was in contention for the Ballon d’Or in 2006, Fabio Cannavaro stole the limelight by captaining Italy to World Cup glory and receiving rare recognition for a centre-back.
Three years later, Eto’o scored in the Champions League final again, but by that time Lionel Messi – who scored in the same final – and Cristiano Ronaldo had become dominant forces; no other player has won the Ballon d’Or since 2007.
Eto’o played a key role in Inter’s Champions League success in 2009/10. Mourinho’s men beat Barcelona on the way to the final, but the Catalan giants were still considered top dogs in some respects – Messi, Andreas Iniesta and Xavi were the top three in the 2010 Ballon d’Or voting.