Samuel Eto’o has won more prestigious accolades than any other African professional in the football trade and remains the highest paid footballer in the world with a salary of €20 million per annum at his current club Anzhi Makhachkala.
However, contrary to wide expectations, the 32-year-old three-time winner of the highly coveted Uefa Champions League title was nowhere on the Goal 50 list of 2012.
Several of his fans posted comments saying they felt cheated for the absence of their idol and questioned the criteria used to draw up the final 50. I tried to reply to some, mentioning that Eto’o’s achievements in 2012 were not outstanding enough to earn votes needed to secure a place in the list of the best soccer players during that previous year.
It appeared I was preaching in the desert. Everyone stuck to their guns, insisting the four-time African footballer of the year ought to have been included on the list of Goal 50, for all he has done in football.
Eto’o’s move to the Russian Premier League kept him out of the spotlight. Although he was able to quickly impose his mark at the Dagestan outfit, his collective achievements at club level failed to make a resounding impact.
He could have made up for that at national team level had Cameroon qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations and subsequently rolling out a brilliant performance. However, Eto’o and the Indomitable Lions were consigned to oblivion during that period while we watched and hailed Zambia win the 28th edition.
Also, Cameroon did not participate in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, delaying the return of Eto’o to the continental scene. He however captained the Dagestanskiye to finish third in the Russian league, contributing 10 personal goals to sweeten his reputation more with his bosses, but how worthy will that speak in the face of Goal 50 voters?
The few African names likely to emerge in the lot will be those who were outstanding enough in their league or continental challenges like the Afcon and the Uefa Champions League, and in the absence of a likely candidate from the European tournament, the Afcon could be used as a gauge for judgment.
Even as I can’t swear it is impossible, Eto’o stands a slim chance to be picked from the above situations and included in Goal Hall of Fame for 2013. Let me apologise to his fans on behalf of the voting pundits, who could as well cast their ballots next time in favour of the man who claims he has won everything in football except the Fifa World Cup.