Not enough is made of Samuel Eto’o’s back-to-back trebles.
Eight times a team has won their domestic league, primary domestic cup, and Champions League in the same season.
Eight times in 62 years.
And Eto’o was a key member for two of those teams, in consecutive seasons.
Pep Guardiola’s Barca side of the late 2000s is widely regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time.
Questions were asked when Ronaldinho was deemed a luxury surplus to requirements but with Lionel Messi establishing himself as the world’s best player, the Catalan club swept aside all opponents with style.
Xavi and Andres Iniesta were influential as the tiki-taka revolution swept world football.
Dani Alves made everyone re-evaluate the role of the modern full-back, while Carles Puyol’s heart-on-sleeve defending gave the side stability.
Every great side needs a clinical No9 and in Eto’o, Barca had one of the very best finishers of the era.
The Cameroonian legend plundered 30 league goals from 36 games.
It helps when you’re flanked by Messi and Thierry Henry with Xavi and Iniesta not far behind but Eto’o’s season-long exhibition should not be taken for granted.
He scored six goals in a successful Champions League campaign, including the opener in the final against Man United in Rome.
His sublime nutmeg on Nemanja Vidic to facilitate the finish set the tone for a game in which Barca ultimately proved they were a level above every other team in Europe.
It’s not often the best team in the world sells their star striker after a 36-goal season.
But Guardiola has never been one to settle.
Barca’s manager at the time believed in the power of a cohesive unit and while Eto’o was an undeniably world-class goalscorer, he was not as adept at implementing the tiki-taka philosophy.
Like most out-and-out strikers, he had a selfish side.
Guardiola believed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the ideal centre-forward for his system, and so he persuaded the board to sign the enigmatic Swede from Inter Milan.
The Serie A club negotiated so that Eto’o was part of the deal and so, after scoring 130 goals in 199 games, he traded Nou Camp for San Siro.
It must have been quite the culture shock switching from Guardiola to Jose Mourinho.
Two of the most successful managers ever had contrasting styles, but Eto’o knows better than most that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Diego Milito established himself as Inter’s primary goalscorer but Eto’o contributed with 16 goals in all competitions.
He scored some decisive winners — none more important than his 78th strike at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League round of 16 second leg.
The Serie A title race went down to the final week and so the trophies came in one glorious rush.
Suddenly Eto’o had won back-to-back trebles with two different clubs, and played a key role in each.
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, the Zlatan experiment did not work out as Guardiola intended.
The Catalan club retained their league title with Ibrahimovic scoring 16 goals, but the Swede’s ego generated friction in the ranks.
Zlatan was not willing to accept Messi as leader of the pack.
He had an issue with the academy graduates’ hero worship of Guardiola, and never fully subscribed to the ‘Mes que un club’ mentality.
We may not see another player complete back-to-back trebles with two different clubs in our lifetime.
And for that reason, we salute you Samuel Eto’o, you wonderful man.
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