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Christian Athlete of the Week: Samuel Eto’o

Most people here in the United States  do not really affiliate with European soccer, but they should know the story of Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o. He is a French-speaking soccer player from the African country of Cameroon. People started to notice Eto’o when he played for Real Mallorca from 2000-2004 and then he started making big money once he transferred to FC Barcelona and played there till 2009. During that time, he scored 108 goals in 145 appearances for the team. Right now, the 32-year-old is playing for Chelsea and has scored 6 goals in 12 games with the team. He also holds the record for most appearances by an African player in the La Liga. As for international records, he is Cameroon’s all-time leading scorer with 42 goals in 87 international games. He was named the African player of the year four times in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010. Not only that, but he became the highest-paid footballer in the world, earning just over $54 million a year when he was traded to Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala back in 2011. What people may not know is that Eto’o is a humble man. After all of the awards and accolades, he still gives all of his praises and attention to God. Take a look at this video:

Throughout his life, Eto’o has been a subject of racism in the La Liga, a soccer league known only to have Spanish white players on the teams. In February of 2005 against a match between Real Zaragoza, the fans made racist gestures and chants every time he possessed the ball on the pitch. They would make monkey sounds and yell curses at him on the field. Through all the adversity, Eto’o remained true to God and has given inspiration to both players and fans alike. Here’s what former teammate and current Barcelona player Andres Iniesta said about what Eto’o meant to the team he once played for.

“History shows that this club has had very few strikers like him. I do not know if there has ever been anyone like him before. What I do know is that Barcelona should erect a statue for him. Samuel was a fundamental player here in recent years and was key to all of the titles that the team won.” Andres Iniesta, August 2009. (Credit: ESPNFC)

In an interview with CNN, Eto’o has been asked about playing for just money and he says that it’s not about riches. In 2006, he established “Fundacion Privada Samuel Eto’o” a charity designed to provide basic healthcare such as ambulances and operation centers. It also trains kids on how to become successful soccer stars. God has clearly provided Eto’o with many blessings, turning him from a poor village boy to an international soccer superstar. Eto’o has returned the favor by supporting those all over the world through his foundation. It just goes to show that God’s love is evident across the globe through athletes like Eto’o. He shows that soccer is more than just a game; it’s a gateway to global peace and harmony.