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The five moments that made Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o a symbol for African fans

The five moments that made Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o a symbol for African fans

As the Cameroon star celebrates his 32nd birthday, Goal.com looks back at some of the player's highlights which excited African fans

Anzhi Makhachkala striker Samuel Eto'o celebrated his 32nd birthday on Sunday, March 10, and one of Africa's finest deserves to be celebrated for the many moments which endeared him to African fans.

The Cameroonian has been fortunate enough to represent the likes of Barcelona and Inter at club level, while he found great success with the Indomitable Lions on the national team stage.

His career spans over a decade and a half of league and cup victories with both club and country, while many individual accolades have also come his way due to his consistent and winning performances throughout the years.

So, as Eto'o moves into the last phase of an illustrious career, Goal.com takes a look at five moments that prompted the Indomitable Lion to become a symbol for African football fans.

2000 AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS TITLE

Samuel Eto'o burst onto the international scene with Cameroon in 2000 at the Africa Cup of Nations, thanks to his contribution to the title winning campaign of the Indomitable Lions.

Cameroon knocked out Algeria and Tunisia on the way to the final, where they secured the title with victory over Nigeria in a penalty shoot-out, after drawing 2-2 in normal time. Eto'o did not take a penalty, but he scored goals in the quarters, semis and the final itself, ending the tournament with a tally of four strikes, one behind top scorer Shaun Bartlett of South Africa.

He was only 18 at the time, but his efforts earned him the Young African Player of the Year award and immediately a nation knew that a new hero had emerged.

TREBLE WINNING SEASON AT BARCELONA

Eto'o was pivotal in Barcelona's 2008-09 treble winning season, helping the club to the Liga, Copa Del Rey and Uefa Champions League titles thanks to his goals and assists.

His influence was visible throughout the campaign, and on 25 October, he recorded the fastest hat-trick in club history after netting three times in 23 minutes to defeat Almeria. In an amazing personal feat, Eto'o also scored four goals in the first half of Barcelona's game against Real Valladolid a few days later.

In La Liga his 30 goals and four assists brought the title to the Catalan giants, while another four strikes and setting up two goals in the Champions League landed Europe's elite club competition for the Spanish side.

WINNING THE TREBLE WITH INTER

The year after his treble winning season with Barcelona he moved to Inter in Serie A, and he immediately replicated the feat by assisting the 'Nerazzurri' to become Serie A, Coppa Italia and Uefa Champions League title holders.

Winning two consecutive trebles with two different teams is a record that Eto'o can exclusively claim, and his efforts during the 2009-10 season provided the evidence that would lead to him winning the 2010 African Player of the Year award.

The Cameroonian scored 12 goals and created five in the Italian top flight, with one goal coming in Coppa Italia action, while a further two strikes and two assists in the Champions League led to a record breaking season for the Milanese giants.

VICTORY IN THE CLUB WORLD CUP WITH INTER

European and Italian title holders Inter were crowned as the world's finest club side after defeating African champions TP Mazembe 3-0 in the final of the Club World Cup in December 2010.

Inter secured victory with first-half goals from Goran Pandev and Samuel Eto'o, with a late Jonathan Biabiany strike finishing the game off.

Eto'o was once again crucial to this victory for the 'Nerazzurri', setting up the first goal before he showed just why he is one of the best goalscorers on the planet with a terrific low right-footed finish from the edge of the box beyond goalkeeper Kidiaba to send Inter on their way to the world title.

FOURTH AFRICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Samuel Eto'o won the most important accolade available at the 2010 Caf Awards held at the Intercontinental City Stars Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, as the striker was named the African Player of the Year for a record fourth time, after earning the award in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

The speedy striker was the most deserving of the trio nominated for the top prize, which included Didier Drogba and Asamoah Gyan. The 32-year-old scored Cameroon's two goals at the 2010 World Cup, and it was at club level where Eto'o truly turned on the style.

The Serie A title, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and Uefa Champions League were all amongst his prizes during the 2009-10 season, not to mention the Club World Cup he added to his trophy count in December of 2010, scoring in the final against African Champions TP Mazembe.

The great African striker has not been in the spotlight as much of late, but it is important to remember this example of goalscoring prowess, who the African continent can be proud of. Happy Birthday to Samuel Eto'o, and we wish you many more!

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