Samuel Eto’o has revealed it doesn’t bother him that he never won the Ballon d’Or award during his glittering playing career.
The Cameroonian is the closest any African has come to winning the award since George Weah’s triumph in 1995, finishing third behind then Barcelona teammate Ronaldinho and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard in the 2005 Fifa World Player of the Year award.
“I won so many trophies, I made so many dreams and for me, that is the equivalent of winning the Ballon d’Or,” Eto’o told AFP.
“However, I do feel for my younger brothers who came along after my generation.”
The 2019 Ballon d’Or nominees include five Africans, Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Eto’o went on to stress that support for Africans, who accomplish big in Europe, is not enough. “Africa needs to show how strong it is. We are lucky to have these good players, who scored more than ten goals in the Champions League, we had the top three scorers in the English league (Mane, Salah, Aubameyang) but somehow these young guys don’t have our support,” Eto’o added.
“I want to accompany them as much as I can, defend them, protect them, because one day it will be their turn to pass on the torch.
“That is what we Africans have not always understood, at all levels, and that is why we are still trailing behind.”
Nevertheless, Eto’o admitted he would be pleased if Lionel Messi claimed the award for a sixth time come December 2 in Paris.
“He is the best player of all time. I was lucky enough to see him come through and to have had a good relationship with him,” he continued.
“When I give my opinion on Leo even he tells me I am not objective. “Everything Messi does, he is a footballing god. I’d be happy for him to the Ballon D’or again.” Eto’o said.