As a member of the Barcelona side that squeezed past Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2009, Samuel Eto’o took to the field in Rome’s Olympic Stadium to face Manchester United in the competition’s showpiece final. It proved to be his penultimate game for the Catalans.
In the stifling heat of the Eternal City, 10 minutes had been played when Eto’o picked up Andres Iniesta’s pass, stepped inside Nemanja Vidic and toe-poked beyond Edwin van der Sar to give his team the lead. The game finished 2-0, sealing a first ever continental treble in Spanish footballing history.
‘It’s a very good memory,’ Eto’o tells the official Chelsea website.
‘I scored a goal in the final of the Champions League and above all we got the trophy. It meant we won the three trophies that season as well so it was a very happy memory.’
We signed the Cameroonian striker days after our goalless draw with Manchester United back in August, so Sunday’s visit of the league champions presents Eto’o with an opportunity to face them for the first time in Chelsea colours. He expects it to be as difficult as ever.
‘On Sunday we have to think about playing a good match, and not think about the chance to get the three points which would allow us to stay near the top of the Premier League.
‘I can’t say exactly what’s going to happen but it’s our next match which we are preparing for and we need to be ready for because it’s certainly going to be difficult.’
In the week that Petr Cech broke our all-time clean sheet record, Eto’o praised the influence of our goalkeeper both on and off the pitch. Having played and indeed scored against Cech in the past, the striker says he is delighted to be on his side now.
‘If Petr is not the best goalkeeper in the world then he’s one of the best. He is also a big character and he has always commanded a lot of respect. It’s great to be next to him and I was so happy he broke the record because he’s such a great guy.
‘He has a big life outside football, he is one of the nicest guys I have met and he has really helped me settle in here.’