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Samuel Eto’o may have only been an Inter player for two seasons, but the legacy he leaves behind will never be forgotten.

“The Lion King” came to Inter in the summer of 2009, as somewhat of an afterthought in the blockbuster Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona deal.  Many people questioned how the Nerazzurri were going to survive without the talent and skill of the Swede and if Eto’o would be able to mesh in the Jose Mourinho mentality of putting the team first.  Stories had been documented near the end of the Cameroonian’s tenure at the Camp Nou, painting him as a prima donna who would not adhere to Pep Guardiola’s guidelines and that his ego made him pretty much uncoachable.

Two years on, Interisti and the rest of the world now know that yes, Inter did more than survive and yes, Eto’o was more than an exemplary teammate, friend, and man.

Prior to his arrival in Milan, Eto’o was known for being a lethal goal scorer and overall, a winner.  After achieving the most prestigious club trophy twice with Barcelona, Samu promised to help Inter to the Holy Land of Champions League success.  It was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams that success would have come so soon, as Inter won the legendary treble under the guidance of Mourinho in Eto’o’s first year.

Samuel had an integral role in the Inter starting eleven, though not the one that everyone would have assumed.  He definitely scored goals as was expected, but what he did unexpectedly was part of the key of winning everything that season.  To refute any reports of him being selfish as had been claimed, spectators would often find the striker tracking back on defense, sometimes seemingly taking on a role of an extra fullback if the team needed him to do so.  He did the intangibles that were not counted on the stat sheet, yet were necessary for the team to accomplish what they did.

Everyone knew this past season was going to be hard, especially on the heels of the magic of the preceding season.  Rafa Benitez had taken over and was an all-around awful fit for the team, yet goals needed to be scored and it was Eto’o who took it upon himself to help the team along.  He finished the season with an astonishing 37 goals in all competitions, including goals in the Club World Cup Final and the Coppa Italia Final, helping deliver even more silverware to the Nerazzurri.

As much as he is a presence on the field, those who know him and have been around him realize he is much more than that.  Samuel was a leader in the dressing room and a brother out of it.  He has gained the respect of the Inter tifosi and understands the Inter family.  His “bag of goals” celebration became his trademark and his friendship with Marco Materazzi, legendary.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this week saw Eto’o officially leave for Anzhi Makhachkala as Inter try to balance the books for UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.  Once again, questions arise as to whether Inter will survive, but the answer will always be the same as personnel may come and go but the shirt remains.  In a final interview to Sky Sport 1, aired on the evening of Thursday, August 25, Eto’o said that he hopes Inter win and that “football remains the same no matter who leaves and who comes. But we are all together as an Inter family.”

Samuel, in bocca al lupo with all your future endeavors.  You will always be uno di noi.

Eto’o's letter to the fans can be found here and a transcript of his interview here

Samuel Eto’o's first goal with Inter

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