Samuel Eto’o has said he wants to become the first coach of colour to win the Champions League and vowed to emulate the style of former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.
The former striker, who retired from playing this month, twice won Europe’s elite competition with Barca – under Frank Rijkaard and then Guardiola – before lifting it again with Inter in 2010.
The 38-year-old has now set his sights on winning the tournament as a coach, using the same possession and attacking style of football adopted by Guardiola at Camp Nou.
Eto’o also hopes such a triumph would blaze a trail for non-white coaches, the ex-Cameroon star having become wearied by recent incidents of racism in the sport.
“I want to be the first coach of colour to win the Champions League, by playing with a team like Guardiola does,” he told Cadena SER.
Eto’o was speaking in the wake of the alleged racist abuse of Inter striker Romelu Lukaku by Cagliari fans during a Serie A match in Sardinia. Cagliari avoided punishment from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
On Monday, television pundit Luciano Passirani was sacked for making a comment about Lukaku that, although apparently meant as a compliment, was considered by many observers to be racist.
“These have been very sad moments and the worst thing is it keeps repeating itself,” Eto’o said. “I ask on my knees for you to help us so that football in the stands is cleaner, with more education.
“Yellow, black, orange… in the end, we’re all the same, and our children should know that. They shout at you like a monkey and then ask you for a photo. They have a photo with a monkey.”
Eto’o scored in Barca’s Champions League final win over Arsenal in 2006 and then broke the deadlock when the Catalans beat Manchester United 2-0 in Rome three years later.
He celebrated the opening goal by slapping his exposed forearm, something he says was fuelled by the fact that “nobody talked about me” prior to the match.
“It meant, ‘I am black and that is why they don’t talk about me’,” he said when asked to explain the celebration.
“I was the only one from the two teams to have scored in a Champions League final [apart from Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008] and nobody talked about me.
“They talked about Cristiano, about my boy [Lionel] Messi, who had not yet arrived… but the one who had scored in a final before was me. And I scored again.”
Most recently at Qatar SC, Eto’o has called time on his playing career but is already plotting a return to Barca, saying: “I’m sure I’ll come back. How? I don’t know, but I’ll come back!”
For now, though, Eto’o says his post-playing plans are simply: “To relax and have fun with my wife.”