Samuel Eto'o: Heart of a Lion

Cord NowellContributor IJanuary 30, 2009

Providing emotional jolts like lighting bolts through the Nou Camp crowd, Barcelona star Samuel Eto'o has become one of the most feared and admired strikers in the world.

With his blazing pace, array of moves, and prolific ability at finding the back of the net, the Cameroon international quenches his goal scoring thirst regularly. Eto'o has scored 19 goals in 19 league matches and has Barcelona sitting at the top of the La Liga table. He is only four league goals short of 100 for his Barcelona career.

Eto'o has built a reputation as a lethal front man, but his amazing abilities are not just limited to the field of play. Eto'o is a humanitarian and is involved with many causes, in particular his fight against racism.

As one of Africa's biggest sports icons, Eto'o realizes the huge influence he has and is determined to eliminate racism from football.

"It is something that has affected me personally. I think players, leaders, and the media have to join forces so that no one feels looked down upon because of the color of their skin," Eto'o said.

The 27-year-old has endured regular racial taunting from fans throughout his career in Spain. From monkey chants, to bananas, nuts and other objects being tossed at him, Eto'o has had to cope with more racial bigotry than anyone should. With the on-going racism problem with La Liga crowds, Eto'o no longer allows his family to attend his matches.

"Racism can happen anywhere and I don't want them to see it," Eto'o said. "It's a sad situation in football.  In my opinion the problem is getting bigger and the people that should come up with a solution are not doing it. So to protect my family, I don't take them to the game."

While playing in a match at Zaragoza in 2006, Eto'o threatened to walk off the pitch after constant abuse from the fans. Late in the match, Barcelona had won a corner kick and Eto'o went over to retrieve the ball. A couple bottles were tossed in his direction and monkey noises erupted from the crowd.

With tears in his eyes, Eto'o left the corner sought Zaragoza defender Alvaro. Eto'o grabbed his arm and the showed the crowd that their Zaragoza defender's arm was black too.

After a PA announcement that called for the racial chants to stop, Eto'o stormed past the ref towards the touchline. Eto'o said he could not continue, the ref, Alavaro and Ronaldinho all tried to stop him. Coach Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho consoled the upset striker and convinced him to continue playing.

A quiet and humble star on the pitch, Eto'o also has left his mark off the playing field as well. He is involved with endless charity work with his African homeland. He has set up several scholarship programs, has donated ambulances, has been involved with the building hospitals and setting up football academies.

His humanitarian gestures can not be over emphasised, as he uses his blessed football skills to help make this world a better place.

The African legend developed his skills at the Kadji Sport Academie in Cameroon. At 15, he was discovered by Real Madrid scouts and the teenager left Africa for the capital of Spain.

After not finding regular first team action with Madrid, Eto'o was loaned to CD Leganés and eventually ended up at Real Mallorca. With 54 goals in five seasons, Eto'o left Mallorca their all-time leading scorer.

Eto'o joined Barcelona in 2004 and immediately he was off and running. In his first season at the Nou Camp he was expected to battle for first team action, he scored 24 goals and helped lead Barcelona to the La Liga title.

In his second season he upped his goal tally to 26 and helped Barcelona beat Arsenal for the Champions League title. Not a bad first two years with his new club. In his 127 league appearances for Barcelona since 2004, he has scored 96 goals.

The goal-scoring machine has developed a great partnership with with Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, creating a deadly attacking threesome. The three stars have combined for 45 goals this season for Barcelona. They will hope the goals keep coming, as Barcelona get set to face Lyon next month in the first knock out stage of Champion's League.