Samuel Eto’o sought the advice of Xavi Hernandez and Wesley Sneijder before choosing to play in Qatar, the Cameroon star said as he was unveiled by his new club yesterday.
After a whirlwind transfer — Eto’o was playing in Turkey a week ago — the beaming 37-year-old striker was presented by Qatar Sports Club, his 13th side, at a press conference in Doha. The four-times African player of the year said he had spoken to his ex-Barcelona and Inter Milan colleagues before committing to the one-year contract, and they convinced him to play in Qatar.
“Xavi and Sneijder are best friends,” said Eto’o. “Before I came to Qatar I spoke to them and they told me all everything is great here, to seize the experience and that it is good to play here,” he added. Xavi has played in Qatar with Al Sadd since 2015 and has been tipped to become the country’s coach when they host the World Cup in 2022. Sneijder plays for Al Gharafa and has been in the Gulf since the beginning of the year.
Eto’o, who underwent a medical yesterday at the Aspetar, has been on the move for his 13th club having been released by Turkish Super Lig side Konyaspor at the end of the last season.
In 2009, Eto’o won the Champions League with Barcelona playing alongside Xavi. A year later he won Europe’s biggest club trophy with Inter, this time in the same side as Sneijder.
In Doha he will play in the number 81 shirt — Eto’o was born in 1981 — and could make his debut as early as Friday when his new team take on Al Sailiya in the Qatar Stars League.
His signing is a coup for Qatar Stars Club. They have won eight league championships, but the last of those came in 2003 and they are not expected to challenge this season.
Last season they finished in mid-table in a 12-team league, a massive 36 points behind champions Al Duhail.
They have played two games so far this season, winning one and losing the other. Eto’o also said he was confident that Qatar would host a good World Cup. “Qatar’s World Cup will be at the same level as Russia, or even better,” he said. Eto’o will prove a big draw for the many African fans working in Qatar. Many came to the QSC to cheer his arrival, decked out in Cameroon shirts and kissing posters of their hero.
On Monday, Eto’o said Ligue 1 clubs had contacted him after he announced he was leaving Turkey last week. But the Qatari outfit have swooped for the signature of one of Africa’s most decorated player. He enjoyed five hugely successful seasons with Barcelona from 2004 to 2009, before helping Jose Mourinho’s Inter team to win the treble of Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia titles in his first season in Italy. He then had brief stints at Chelsea and Everton in the Premier League.
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