Cameroon football legend Roger Milla has said three-time African player of the year Samuel Eto’o has not lived up to expectation for his country.
“He has given a lot to Barcelona and Inter Milan but has never proved anything with the national team,” Milla said in a story run by the French news agency (AFP).
It is the latest onslaught by the star of Cameroon’s 1990 World Cup campaign in Italy on the man widely seen to be his successor on the country’s football stage. Last year, Milla blamed Eto’o for the confusion that reigned within the Indomitable Lions under former head coach, Otto Pfister.
He has now attributed the team’s current poor run of form on the captain – - -Samuel Eto’o.
“He maltreated the other members of the squad; something that has never happened in the national team,” Milla said in reference to rumours that Eto’o was rude to some of his team-mates in the dressing room at January’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Angola. “Cameroon is still waiting to see him act,” he added.
CONFLICT OF GENERATIONS
Eto’o, three time winner of the UEFA Champions League trophy, has not yet responded to what seems to have become a battle of generations on who is the Cameroon’s most successful footballer.
After Milla’s severe criticism of the Inter Milan player at the end of 2009, Eto’o is understood to have caused the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) to bar his boyhood hero (Milla) from the Indomitable Lions’ entourage. Milla who is an honorary chairman of FECAFOOT was not even included in the association’s delegation to the AFCON.
Roger Milla, twice African Player of the Year (1976 & 1990), won two AFCON trophies in 1984 and 1988 endeared himself with the Cameroon’s fans for his goals in key matches and most especially for his contribution at the age of 38 to the Lions’ run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, which remains their best performance to date in this competition.
He, however, seems to be oblivious of the fact that Eto’o has won two AFCONs in 2000 (where he scored 4 goals) and in 2002 with the Indomitable Lions; was part of the Cameroon’s team Olympic Gold medal winning crop in 2000 (scored a vital goal against Spain in the final and his penalty in the shoot-out that led to victory); was also decisive at the Confederations Cup in 2003 where he scored the winning goal against Brazil in a tournament where Cameroon only faltered at the final (the best African performance in a FIFA senior teams competition).
Milla, who was named Africa’s player of the past 50 years, is undoubtedly a legend who is not afraid to speak his mind. Still, to say that Cameroon’s all time highest goal scorer (43 goals in 92 appearances) who contributed 9 out of 20 goals scored by the country to qualify the team to the 2010 World Cup, has done nothing for his national team is stretching things a bit.
Eto’o's supporters say the 29-year-old has already achieved what Milla did in 42 years with the national team (bar a World Cup quarter-final).
“Milla’s first tournament victory with the national team was at the age of 32, which means if we have to strictly compare what each offered Cameroon by the age of 30 Milla cannot compare with Eto’o. Milla was great and he should please, respect himself,” an Eto’o fan said on a Cameroon internet forum.
WORLD CUP DOUBTS
The 58-year-old Roving Ambassador also reserved a few scathing remarks for the current head coach of his darling national team, saying the Africa Cup of Nations was a disaster which does not inspire confidence for the coming World Cup.
“I didn’t agree with Paul Le Guen’s list of 30 [players short-listed for the World Cup]… People are bitter and they doubt Le Guen,” he said.
He was more graceful about his past and how he brought some joy to Cameroonians when he scored a goal at the age of 42 when Russia trounced Cameroon 6-1 in the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
Milla also believes, his dancing by the post on every goal he scored at the World Cup (see video above) was the first and best of all time.
“It was spontaneous, I hadn’t prepared it. Now, people hop around, imitate robots, it’s all prepared stuff and nothing to do with dance.”