Thursday May 15, 2014. 00:04
The patron of the second edition of the Copa Coca Cola which will take place in Bouaké, Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o gave journalists an opportunity to talk to him at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny international airport just after his landing in Abidjan on Wednesday evening.
Africanfootball.com reports from the Ivorian capital.
Why did you accept to be the patron of this second edition of the Copa Coca Cola?
Firstly because I am African. And then because we need to be a field of dreams for the children who don’t have a lot of opportunities to dream. Those youngsters are our present and our future. It is why I am the patron of this edition. And everybody knows my special bond with the Ivorians.
Can this initiative help Africa to develop a more competitive football which will allow them to one day win the World Cup?
I left for Europe when I was very young because I was thinking that was the only way to succeed. But it was a bad choice. Because if you don’t have your papers in order, you cannot do anything there. I was very young, and unfortunately I didn’t have older brothers to give me advice as I am doing today for others, to tell me go to school, study, enjoy your sport and tomorrow
you will be someone.
I almost missed the opportunity of a great career. But luckily for me, after suffering for eight months, I told my sister that I was going back home to Cameroon. And I found an Academy where I could study and play football.
I then ended up at Real Madrid. Imagine if I went to Real Madrid without being able to read and write! So it is very important for those children to go to school.
I hope I will have time to talk to them and tell them they can become another Yaya Touré, who is for me today the best player in the world. They can also become another Didier Drogba or others great African players. But to achieve it, there are a lot of sacrifices to be made.
Do you think Africa can have their say at the World Cup in Brazil?
I hope so. Because people think Africa are just there for the show. And it is because football leaders don’t respect us that our opponents don’t respect us. But look at the main European clubs, where a lot of Africans are shining! Take Manchester City as an example, and look at the goals scored by Yaya Touré. If it was Messi, we will be talking about it for three years.
Côte d’Ivoire are the best African side today. They are above the rest on paper, but they must win. Africa must fight to get as far as possible and why not win the World Cup. People will say I am crazy, but if I am not crazy why would I go to Brazil? For holidays?
How do you feel about this World Cup which could well be your last one, and what is your future at Chelsea?
Thanks for informing me that it will be my last World Cup. Today, I am 33 years old. And it is not because a fool called me an old man that you must believe it. And you may have noticed that the old man was better than the youngsters.
Some believe I am going to retire in the United States or in the Middle East, but I have regained the joy of the Champions League and I am going to carry on playing in the Champions League. Where? I am not going to tell you. But I am going to carry on playing because physically and mentally I feel great.
So I am going to go to this World Cup and to the next one when I will be 37. Some did it at 42, so I can still play in two more World Cups.
Do you fear Brazil?
I have never been afraid. If you are scared, don’t become a football player. But you need to have respect for your opponents. It will be eleven men against eleven men. It is true, Cameroon lost to Brazil in 1994, but I was part of the team which defeated Brazil at the Confederations Cup, and I scored a great goal to Dida in the 88th
minute. And then we beat them again at the Olympics. It tells you that football is not an exact science.
It is going to be difficult, for sure, but in football everything is possible. I have a lot of respect for all those great players, but I am not afraid. We will have our chances, and we need to take them.