Samuel Eto’o names the greatest player he played with at Barcelona – other than Lionel Messi

Samuel Eto'o Andres Iniesta

Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o has picked out Andres Iniesta as the greatest player he played alongside – other than the obvious choice Lionel Messi.

The ex-Cameroon international recently hung up his boots after a playing career in which he won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues with Barca.

Eto’o went on to win Serie A and another Champions League at Inter Milan, but it was his colleagues at the Camp Nou who impressed him the most when asked to name his greatest team-mate.

“I shared a dressing-room with many great players,” Eto’o told LaLiga. 

“If I have to choose one I would say Iniesta.

“He impressed me from the first day… Messi is obviously from another planet so we can put him aside. But Iniesta made me say ‘wow… hats off’.”

After leaving Inter, Eto’o had spells with Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC before announcing his retirement in September.

“I feel proud of what I achieved but at the same time happy to be able to rest and enjoy myself with my wife and children,” he said.

“The best moment of my career was my debut. You have a lot of ambition; your eyes are opened.”

That debut came at Real Madrid aged just 17, but the striker’s breakthrough came at RCD Mallorca between 1999 and 2004 when he helped the islanders win the Copa del Rey in 2002/03, form that eventually earned him a move to Catalonia.

“I reached my top level when at Mallorca,” he said.

“We were a group of normal guys who had to compete against the great players at Real Madrid and Barcelona. But we did it very well, we were proud of defending our jersey and our island.”

He added: “At Barcelona it was about opening the eyes of the world, making it known that a kid coming from where I came from, when given the same opportunities as the others, could do well.

“It was tough at Mallorca but when I got to Barcelona I saw that we could not fail, we were a group of unbelievable players and we just had to win. It was a unique time, we were up against a unique Real Madrid side, with the galacticos.”

Eto’o now has his sights set on a career in management and hinted that he would like to return to Mallorca in an off-field role.

“Now I want to prepare for new challenges,” he said.

“I love football so I would like some day to be able to coach at the highest level. It could be ‘my’ Mallorca or some other big team.

“I have had the fortune to win things as a player, and I would like to do that again as a coach”.

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