Samuel Eto’o has retired from football. He was only at Chelsea for one year but he felt like a completely blue player while at the club.
For some players, no matter how short their time was at Stamford Bridge, it just felt like they belonged in blue. Raul Meireles and Juan Mata can count themselves among that crowd despite having only four combined seasons between them (three being Mata’s). Samuel Eto’o can also include himself in that group.
By the time Eto’o came to Chelsea, his career was already winding down. Stints at Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Inter Milan made him known as one of the world’s greatest strikers. He had been spending his time in Russia following a transfer boom there, but when the money dried up he was snapped up by Chelsea.
It felt like a move that should have happened sooner. Eto’o fit right into Jose Mourinho’s squad as he was called upon time and time again and delivered more often than not. He chalked up 2177 minutes and scored 12 goals for Chelsea in the process of their “little horses” season.
Eto’o was one of many older strikers Chelsea would bring in to round out the strike force. He had played with Mourinho previously at Inter Milan and it was clear that Mourinho did not think Romelu Lukaku was ready yet (as showcased the following season when Diego Costa came in and Lukaku was sold).
But Eto’o never acted like an older striker. Well, except for that one celebration after Mourinho called him an old man. But even that was a temporary bump in the road between player and manager as Eto’o continued to be called upon and continued to deliver.
In fact, Eto’o was Chelsea’s highest scoring striker that season and second only to Eden Hazard for the entire squad. Not too bad for a player brought in to fill the gaps around Fernando Torres and Demba Ba.
Few probably would have been too upset for Eto’o to stay another year, even with Costa’s arrival. He may not have had enough in the tank to lead the line but he had plenty enough when called upon.
But that probably proved a wise move as he struggled at Everton the following season (behind Lukaku no less!). He bounced around Italy and Turkey, which even included a stint as a player manager, before finding his last club in Qatar. At 38, he has now retired.
Eto’o was once one of the world’s best and Chelsea caught the very end of that era. He was only at Chelsea that one season but his old man celebration and his style of play is looked back on fondly by fans. Despite only wearing Chelsea blue for one season, Eto’o very much felt a part of the club and their path forward at the time. Had Chelsea gotten him earlier while he and Didier Drogba were in their peak, they would have ruled the world.
But as it stands he will be remembered as a good player for the club despite his one year as he enters a very well earned retirement of criticizing Pep Guardiola.