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Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:43 UK

Eto'o the Great

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport

Samuel Eto'o
Eto'o is the first African to score in two Champions League finals

Samuel Eto'o can lay claim to being the most decorated African footballer in history following Barcelona's Champions League triumph on Wednesday night.

Barca's 2-0 victory over Manchester United in Rome handed the 28-year-old Cameroonian the second Champions League medal of his career.

No other African has a pair of winners' medals gained from actually playing in the final of Europe's premier competition.

Eto'o's compatriot Geremi has two Champions Leagues from his time with Real Madrid.

He was an unused substitute in the 2000 final and failed to make the match-day squad for the triumph two years later.

However, it is up to the discretion of the winning club, rather than Europe's governing football body Uefa, who medals are awarded to.

Eto'o, of course, does play in finals, starts them in fact and his 10th-minute goal made him the first African to score in two Champions League finals.

In the 2006 final against Arsenal, which Barcelona won 2-1 in Paris, the Cameroonian slotted home a 76th-minute equaliser from close range.

I want to dedicate the title to Spain, my family, my parents and this team that deserves everything it has got

Samuel Eto'o

In addition to his Champions League medals, Eto'o has also won Olympic gold (2000), two African Nations Cups (2000 and 2002), two Spanish Cups and three Spanish leagues.

He is the only man to have won three African Footballer of the Year titles (2003-2005) and is also the record goal scorer in the 52-year history of the African Nations Cup - having claimed his 16th goal last year.

In 2006, Eto'o also became the first African to top the scoring charts in one of the big three European leagues of Spain, Italy and England. He lifted the the 'pichichi' for netting 26 goals in Spain.

Prior to Eto'o, only Rabah Madjer had ever scored in a European Cup final. The Algerian netted a famous back-heel in 1987 which contributed to FC Porto's narrow 2-1 triumph against Bayern Munich.

And while the likes of Zimbabwe's Bruce Grobbelaar (Liverpool), Ghana's Abedi Pele (Marseille) and compatriot Sammy Kuffuor (Bayern Munich) all contested two European Cup finals, they only ever managed to win one title apiece.

Many Nigerians often claim that Kanu is Africa's most decorated footballer, with his trophy cabinet displaying medals for the Champions League, Uefa Cup, Olympic Games, six domestic championships (including two Premier League titles) as well as three FA Cups.

Yet the twice-crowned African Footballer of the Year has never won the Nations Cup and has only picked up the one Champions League medal, earned with Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam in 1995 (alongside compatriot Finidi George).

Considering the Champions League is seen as the pinnacle of club football throughout the world, Eto'o's achievements must be treated with respect.

Such a feat looked a long way off last June when coach Pep Guardiola announced that the Cameroonian did not feature in his long-term plans shortly after taking charge of the Catalan club.

Yet Eto'o's hard work in pre-season won over the legendary Barca midfielder, who has been rewarded by the striker's incredible tally of 29 league goals in only 35 matches this season.

* This article does not take into account Champions League medals won by players who were not part of the match-day squad.

For example, Geremi, who won a medal with Real Madrid in 2000 as an unused substitute in the final, was also awarded one in 2002 even though he did not make the final squad.



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see also
Barcelona 2-0 Man Utd
27 May 09 |  Europe
Man City discuss Eto'o with Barca
01 May 09 |  Man City
Eto'o wants to stay at Barcelona
27 Feb 09 |  African
Guardiola says no room for Eto'o
17 Jun 08 |  African
Eto'o sets La Liga record
05 May 08 |  African


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