Ex-Inter striker Samuel Eto’o reveals how he was convinced to move to Inter, as well as what it is about Inter that makes him confident that he will always be an Inter player at heart.
Eto’o transferred to Inter in the summer of 2009 as part of a swap deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and scored 53 goals in two seasons, winning the Treble in 2010.
“If you’re an Interista once, you’ll die an Interista. That’s just how it is,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. Why exactly does he say that he’s going to ‘die’ Nerazzurro?
He has the answer now:
“Mourinho convinced me in a simple way: he sent me Inter’s No 9 shirt and wrote to me saying ‘it’s yours, it’s waiting for you.’
“There was a big difference between the salary offered by Inter and what I asked for, so I amazed everyone at the table.
“I said, ‘let’s turn the missing part into team bonuses if we win the Champions League within two years.’ Ten months later, we were European champions.
“Materazzi then messaged me saying, ‘if you come to Inter, we’ll win everything.’ I didn’t have his number in my address book so I asked [Demetrio] Albertini: ‘Is it yours?’
“It really was Marco’s. Such a thing had never happened to me in my whole career: that message carried great weight in my decision. And it gave birth to a friendship.
“President Moratti called me shortly after and, in perfect French, said to me: ‘Eto’o, trust me: you’ll have a great time at Inter, it’ll feel like home.’ He was right.”
This is why he feels at home at Inter after all these years as well.
Despite being one of Europe’s most professional finishers in the 2000s, the 39-year-old is possibly best known for being in full-back against Barca in the Champions League semi-finals.
He remembers his transfer from Barcelona, playing full-back and winning the Champions League:
“I was only a proper full-back at Barcelona, but that was because of an emergency. And besides, what I thought that night was actually what I’d thought for the entire season.
“When Thiago Motta was sent off, Mourinho called me and Zanetti over. He explained to us how to position ourselves on the field: I didn’t even have time to think about how much I should’ve run, being out wide.
“I said to myself, ‘let’s give it my all and we’ll see what happens.’ At the end of the match, we were in the Final.
“I’ll always remember two things about that night [in London against Chelsea]. Mourinho’s speech before the game: ‘No team I’ve coached can beat me.’
“We entered the field with a different kind of determination: we weren’t only playing for ourselves but also for our coach.
“Then there was the stop I took before I scored. The ball dropped and I said to myself: ‘If you take it well, you’ll easily score.’ I still have that control in my eyes.
“My speech for the Final wasn’t long, I simply said: ‘A Final isn’t played, it’s won. We die on the pitch and bring the cup back to Milan, or we die because we don’t go back to Milan. Therefore, let’s go back and bring the cup with us.’”