Cameroonian soccer striker Samuel Eto’o won an unprecedented four African Player of the Year Awards and back-to-back trebles with his European clubs.
Born on March 10, 1981, in Nkon, Cameroon, Samuel Eto'o joined Real Madrid's youth academy in 1997. He led his country to victories at the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, and later won back-to-back trebles with European clubs FC Barcelona and Internazionale. A four-time African Player of the Year, Eto'o became soccer's highest-paid star after signing with FC Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011.
Samuel Eto'o Fils was born on March 10, 1981, in Nkon, Cameroon. The son of an accountant, he enjoyed a relatively comfortable childhood and attended the Kadji Sports Academy in the city of Douala. Eto'o's attempts to sign with a French soccer club as a teenager were rejected due to his age and lack of a proper ID, but he became a member of Real Madrid's youth academy in 1997.
Early Professional Career
Eto'o barely played for Real Madrid and was loaned to multiple clubs throughout the late 1990s. However, the speedy striker established himself as a key player for his country, leading Cameroon to championships at the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations and the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
In the meantime, Eto'o found a stable club home with RCD Mallorca. He scored twice in Mallorca's 2003 Copa Del Rey victory, a performance that helped him garner the first of three straight African Player of the Year Awards, and became the club's all-time leading domestic league scorer.
Eto'o signed with Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona in 2004 and helped deliver a league title in his first season. One of soccer's most lethal strikers, Eto'o earned the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga's leading scorer in 2006 and topped all competitors in goals at the 2006 and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. But even though he was a major force behind Barcelona's treble-winning campaign of 2008-09, he fell out of favor with the club and was traded to Internazionale for Zlatan Ibrahimovi?.
Eto'o enjoyed a triumphant 2009-10 season with Internazionale, earning Serie A, Champions League and Italian Cup victories to become the first player to win back-to-back trebles. He claimed a record fourth African Player of the Year Award in 2010, and guided his club to another Italian Cup championship at the end of the season.
In August 2011, Eto'o signed a three-year contract with the Russian Premier League's FC Anzhi Makhachkala that made him the highest-paid player in the world. However, the expensive striker was sold with the club looking to cut payroll, and he resumed his career as a member of the English Premier League's Chelsea F.C. in 2013-14.