In a World Cup year, which could still see Cameroon book a ticket for next summer’s tournament in Brazil, Eto’o reportedly told teammates on Sunday his international career was over. Reuters has more:
His announcement follows a week of tension in the team camp after Eto'o demanded the selection of goalkeeper Carlos Kameni and striker Achille Webo against Libya, with German Finke refusing to agree.
The official line reportedly given by Eto’o for his decision to walk out was “family reasons,” per Reuters. However, the timing comes right after the fallout with Finke—who refused to confirm the news—according to Leocadia Bongben of BBC Sport:
Samuel Eto'o is a great player and it is better that he should be the one to explain things. He is the one who knows his decision.
He has given a lot to football and Cameroon and that is why he is the one to explain this.
According to L’Equipe, per Reuters, the 32-year-old initially said he could not feature in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Libya, citing a groin problem. However, a change of heart saw him skipper the side for an hour.
With plenty of ill-feeling still inside the dressing room, the sports minister was sent in to act as peacemaker, according to the report. Eto’o later did not return with the rest of the team to the hotel.
Cameroon’s World Cup qualifying bid is still in their own hands. They have reached the final round of African qualification and must now win a two-legged playoff, which will take place in October and November.
Eto’o, who recently signed for Chelsea and is yet to make his Premier League debut, will not feature in that playoff as things stand.
That would be welcome news for Jose Mourinho, who would prefer his veteran capture to rest up for domestic action ahead of a busy Christmas period in December.
Should Sunday’s game prove to be Eto’o’s last, he would retire with 114 caps for Cameroon, netting 56 goals to become the country’s all-time record scorer. He is also the most decorated African player of all time, winning the African Player of the Year award four times.