Samuel Eto’o: Football at Olympics will always have a special place in my heart

The former FC Barcelona striker will closely follow the action at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

By Samrat Chakraborty

Football at Tokyo 2020 is underway and fans across the world watching with bated breath to see some of the most promising young talent set the Olympics alight.

Former Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o, who famously won the Olympic gold at Sydney 2000, believes that anyone who is a keen follower of sports in general, will keep a track of the latest happenings at Tokyo 2020.

“Anyone who is passionate about sport will naturally follow the Olympic Games. It is a major sporting competition and those who love sport will not miss it.

“I will be watching the athletics, swimming…there are so many sports to follow. The Olympics is the pinnacle for sport in general. For footballers we all want to be at a World Cup, which is the biggest event for us, but for other sports, it is all about the Olympic Games,” said the Qatar Legacy Ambassador for the 2022 World Cup.

Eto’o opined that the football tournament at Olympics has helped create several ‘stars of the future’ and he will keenly follow the progress of the African teams namely Ivory Coast, South Africa and Egypt on how they will fare in the football competition.

“The football tournament at the Olympics will always have a special place in my heart having won the tournament with Cameroon in 2000. With the teams restricted to using mostly players that are under 23, it is a great opportunity to develop younger players and give them an opportunity to represent their country at a major international tournament.

“The Olympics has helped create many stars of the future so I will of course be watching in the hope that we see some exciting young players make a name for themselves. I am looking forward to seeing Ivory Coast, South Africa, and Egypt, who will be representing Africa. Hopefully, they can perform well and do their countries proud at the tournament,” said Eto’o, who has 188 caps for his national team.

The 40-year-old also shared his experience of standing on top of the podium at Olympics and why the competition will always be a memorable experience for him. Spain were leading 2-0 at half-time with goals from Xavi and Gabri. An own goal by Ivan Amaya and Eto’o's equaliser took the match to penalties after the game was locked at 2-2 after extra-time. Amaya missed his spot-kick while Cameroon converted all five, including one from Eto’o, to win the gold medal.

“It was an incredible feeling, especially because we had some difficulties during the tournament. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you again to all my teammates, my ”fellow soldiers”, during this tournament. Because it was really tough – but in the end we won the gold medal by beating Spain despite trailing by two goals to nil in the final.

“I thought I had scored the winning goal in the last few seconds of extra-time but the flag went up for offside. Thankfully, we won the penalty shootout 5-3 to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in any sport for Cameroon. To have the privilege to be part of such a historic moment for my country at an early stage in my career was really special and something I will never forget,” he mentioned.