Samuel Eto'o has revealed that his 2009 transfer from Barcelona to Inter Milan was down to an unlikely backer and fellow player - Marco Materazzi.
The much travelled striker spoke to Sky Italia (via Football Italia) about a number of incidences throughout his career, including how watching the film 'Gladiator' gave Barca's players the belief to beat Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final.
It was his £17m move to Inter, though, that drew the greatest intrigue from Sky Italia's presenters, and Eto'o explained how ex-Inter and Everton defender Materazzi had a role in seeing him trade La Liga for Serie A.
Eto'o said: “It’s true, I came to Inter because of Materazzi. I take this opportunity to thank him, because even if I didn’t know him, when I was in Cameroon I received a message signed Marco Materazzi.
“I called Demetrio Albertini, who I played with at Barcelona, and asked if he could verify if that really was Materazzi. Five minutes later, I got confirmation. So, if I played at Inter, it was thanks to Marco Materazzi.”
Eto'o went on to plunder 53 goals in just 102 appearances for I Nerazzurri - a strike rate of one-in-two - before his departure for Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in July 2011.
Samuel Eto’o, Real Madrid de 1997 a 2000 y Barcelona de 2005 al 2009. pic.twitter.com/77sVFbuZT8
— Medio Central (@mediocentral) April 22, 2017
The 36-year-old, who currently plays for Turkish outfit Antalyaspor, is one of a number of world class players to have featured for both Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona throughout his playing career.
Eto'o was a youth star at Cameroonian club Kadji Sports when he was plucked from obscurity to join Real's B-side Castilla and, when quizzed over his time at the Santiago Bernabeu as a young footballer coming through the ranks at one of the biggest clubs in the world, he revealed how bizarre it was to train alongside some of Real's all-time greats after completing a once-in-a-lifetime move from his homeland.
He added: “In Africa there aren’t many opportunities for people, so there are moments when you doubt yourself. When I got to Real Madrid, I thought ‘this is my path, I don’t care what happens, I’ll make it.’
“I arrived thanks to a player called Pirri, who was at Madrid, as he saw me play against the Ivory Coast youth team and called me in to have a trial at Real Madrid.
“I didn’t believe him at first, but I got there and met Roberto Carlos, Raul, Redondo – my idols. And Fabio Capello as a Coach. I remember after the training session, Capello came over to me and said: ‘You are staying here.’”
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