How Different Would Spurs Have Been If Samuel Eto'o Had Signed in His Prime?

Glenn HoddleAnalyst IApril 12, 2017

Associated Press

Samuel Eto’o might raise one or two final epic displays much the way Didier Drogba did for Chelsea prior to his eventual farewell to the Bridge, but it might come as a surprise that the ace former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan striker might have spent all of his prime years at White Hart Lane.

When I was manager at Tottenham Hotspur, it was a vastly different scenario to the transfer budgets at the club's disposal right now. I certainly didn’t have £100 million to spend in one transfer window, that's for sure!

In fact, there wasn’t anywhere near as much TV cash sloshing around, and the transfer budget was pretty tight at the Lane back then.

However, through my contacts in the game, I had lined up what I thought would be a pretty potent attacking force in Samuel Eto’o and Spanish international centre-forward Fernando Morientes, who had a formidable goalscoring record in his prime.

Morienties played for Real Madrid, Monaco, Valencia and indeed Liverpool, but he could have been one of my first signings along with Eto’o. Morienties played 47 times for his country and in two World Cups and one Euro Cup. He scored 124 goals in 337 games in La Liga.

When I arrived at Spurs as manager, my aim was to bring Morienties and Cameroon international Eto’o together in attack.

When you look at Eto’o’s feats in the Champions League, his goalscoring record in Spain, it is just incredible to think that my efforts to bring him to Spurs were thwarted.

I read recently in the Daily Mail that Tim Sherwood once scouted Luis Suarez for Harry Redknapp and came back with a report that put the club off buying him. I’ve no idea how accurate that report might be, but it made me think about the time I tried to sign Eto’o in his prime. I suffered a similar thing with Eto’o and Morienties. There were negative reports about both, and the deals that I had set up fell apart.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, this is not something to which I am pointing a finger at the chairman Daniel Levy. I had a very good relationship with Daniel back then and still do. I would have helped him out by taking the Spurs job again if only until the end of the season if they'd needed me. I would never turn my back on Spurs—the club is in my blood.

Daniel never gets involved in the players who come into the club apart from the obvious fact that he has to sign the cheques and sort out the players' contracts.

But the club have had a number of directors of football, more so than any other club. Whether this structure works is another matter, and one for Daniel or his managers, not for me.

All I can say is that no one turns up at the training ground at Spurs unannounced and unknown to the manager. The manager has to select the players he wants to work with.

However, when I was manager the budgets were vastly different, and players like Eto’o were unknown quantities. People have vastly different opinions, which might have been the case with Suarez and Sherwood, and those opinions can sway decisions sometimes. But while hindsight is great, sometimes those opinions make sense at the time.

However, you can only wonder what might have been had a young and eager Eto’o and the vastly experienced Morientes led the Spurs attack when I arrived at the club.


Glenn Hoddle is technical director of Football 30, where 80 of the greatest legends from Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham are taking part in the Elite Legends Cup at Brisbane Road on May 18.

Paolo Di Canio, Iain Dowie, Alan Devonshire, Teddy Sheringham, Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa, Danny Murphy, Darren Anderton, Franco Zola, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Martin Keown, Nail Quinn, Paul Merson, Alan Smith, John Jensen, Kenny Sansom and Ian Wright are among the multitude of top stars participating.