By Angu Lesley
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
Former Cameroon international Sampson Che has expressed his disapproval of the comments made by German gaffer Winfried Schafer about the career of Cameroon football legend Samuel Etoo Fils.
The 70-year-old German managed the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon between 2001-2004, landing the AFCON crown in style in 2002 and guidedCameroon to the final of the 2003 FIFA Confederations cup.
Schafer arrived Cameroon in November 2001 as replacement for Pierre LeChantre who had claimed the previous AFCON crown in 2000.
His arrival coincided with the emergence of many great Cameroonian talent amongst which was Samuel Eto’o. By 2001 the Kadji sports academy was already making a name for himself as a teenager at Mallorca after winning the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid,the Olympic gold medal and the AFCON with Cameroon in 2000.
Despite his fine start in Europe and his great displays before departure from Cameroon, Schafer thinks Eto’o’s work ethics was questionable.
“Samuel was incredibly quick and a goal scoring threat. His only problem was, he was too early to the opinion that he was a great player. He did not always train full throttle when he was with us,” Schafer told Goal/SPOX.
“So before a match at the 2002 AFCON I had to talk with him. I said : ‘Samuel, imagine someone saying in three years from now: ‘Eto’o, that was a talented player. What does he do now? Do you really want people talking about you like that?’ He shook his head and finally started to work. Today he is still thankful for these clear words.” Schafer concluded in an interview Goal/SPOX
Che Sampson thinks Schafer comments on his influence on the success of Eto’o could be better if it came from the four times African Footballer of the year. He further states Eto’o’s performances never showed signs of less efforts in training.
“Eto’o was born great. He single handedly eliminated TKC and Canon whilst playing for UCB in the Cameroon cup in 1995.
“A coach can’t take all the credit for the success of a player he met after the player had won the AFCON, an Olympic Gold medal plus the champions League and was already a regular in the La Liga.
Eto’o was good even before leaving Cameroon. Remember the scout from Madrid came for Bonaventure Kalu in 1995 but saw Etoo.
“I won’t say yes or no on the question of Eto’o’s undercommitment in training. I was in camp with him just for two days in 1999. That’s before the last qualifier game against Ghana for Sydney 2000. He arrived on Friday at about 5 AM. The practice was at 10AM. He had an individual practice session because of fatigue from the long journey, which is normal.
“The next day, the training lasted just over an hour and it was more technical and tactical. Unfortunately I didn’t make the list of 18. To summarize the story, Etoo and Wome contributed more than 60% to the Olympic lion’s success that memorable December 4th.” Che Concluded in an exclusive discussion with Kick442.com.
There is no doubt that Schafer played a part in Eto’o’s development.The pair won the 2002 AFCON, though the then Mallorca forward couldn’t replicate his performances in his debut tournament two years earlier.
Eto’o is on record to have said former Mallorca coach Luis Aragones shaped his career in his time at the club.
A handful of Cameroonians are of the opinion that, the 2000 AFCON tournament in Ghana and Nigeria was a turning point in the career of the former Inter Milan man. Eto’o scored four goals in that competition and was the co-lead scorer.
The 39-year-old Eto’o made his debut for Cameroon in March 1997 scored 56 goals in 118 appearances across 17 years before retirement from international football in 2014.
In all,Eto’o played 719 games, scored 359 goals and made 116 assists which earned him 18 team trophies. Three of his trophies were picked up with the Indomitable Lions, two of which he won before Schafer came. It must be said that, all of his club trophy were won after his encounter with the German coach,the only exception is 2000 UEFA champions league title won with Real Madrid.
Che Sampson helped Cameroon reach the 2000 AFCON tournament in Ghana/Nigeria. He featured in the qualifiers game against Mozambique in Maputo. Unfortunately he was left out of the tournament’s squad as Cameroon went on to win the AFCON with Eto’o as the star of the tournament.
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