Samuel Eto’o has claimed that he has met Real Madrid fans who wished that their club didn’t part ways with the former Cameroon striker, who took his first footballing steps in Spain in Los Blancos’ academy.
After departing Real Madrid, Eto’o joined Real Mallorca before moving on to Barcelona and Inter. In his spells in Catalonia and Italy, the retired striker won a total of three Champions League trophies.
In an interview for Marca, Eto’o discussed whether Xavi Hernandez is ready to take over at Barcelona and his Real Madrid past, while he also revealed his favourite to win the Ballon d’Or award.
Let’s start with what’s going on now. Do you think that Xavi Hernandez is prepared to coach Barcelona?
Xavi is my brother and he is a great coach. The other day I saw him enjoy a lot after winning the Emir Cup [with Al Sadd]. He is great.
You triumphed at Barcelona and Inter. Choose one between the two.
It is the same love: mum and dad. I can’t choose. I came to Barcelona thanks to Joan Laporta. I went there because he insisted on bringing me in. And then, at Inter, I met a kind of God, which is [former president] Massimo Moratti. An incredible, loving man. And I did well at both [teams].
Dad, mum… but you grew up at Real Madrid. Where are they in your heart?
I will always be grateful to the club, regardless of the decisions made by some people. Presidents make decisions, but I will always carry Real Madrid in my heart.
You go to Madrid a lot. Do people treat you well?
Now that I no longer play, yes [laughs]. When I was active, some, guided by emotions, told me things but now it’s different. They tell me: ‘What a shame, Samu, you couldn’t play for our team!’ But yeah, I’m a bit old for that already. Life is as it is.
How do you see Real Madrid, by the way? Soon there will be another Real Madrid vs Inter.
Yes, I was in Milan and we lost in the last minute with a Rodrygo [Goes] goal, but Inter did not deserve to lose that day. Perhaps the draw would be fair. Now we must go to Madrid and we have already shown that we can fight.
You love Jose Mourinho, your coach at Inter when you won the Champions League in 2010. What do you think of him being at Roma?
Jose is a phenomenon, the only one I see capable of making Roma champion of Italy again after so long without winning [Serie A].
Who would you give the Ballon d’Or to?[I’d] always [give it to Lionel] Messi, who is like a little brother to me. I appreciate him very much as a person and as a player. I watched him grow up and I have a special love for him. For me he is still the best in the world. If we remove Leo, there are others that I like, like [Karim] Benzema. He is a player that I love. Cristiano [Ronaldo] left [Real Madrid] and [Benzema] carried the team on his shoulders.