DOHA: Samuel Eto’o sought the advice of Xavi Hernández and Wesley Sneijder before choosing to play in Qatar, the Cameroon star said as he was unveiled by his new club on Tuesday.
After a whirlwind transfer – Eto’o was playing in Turkey a week ago – the beaming 37-year-old striker was presented by Qatar Sports Club, his 13th side, at a chaotic press conference in Doha.
The four-time African Footballer of the Year said he had spoken to his ex-Barcelona and Inter Milan colleagues before committing to the one-year contract, and they convinced him to play in Qatar.
“Xavi and Sneijder are best friends,” said Eto’o.
“Before I came to Qatar I spoke to them, and they told me all conditions are good, to seize the experience, and that it is good to play here.”
Xavi has played in Qatar with Al Sadd since 2015 and has been tipped to become the country’s coach when they host the World Cup in 2022.
Sneijder plays for Al-Gharafa and has been in the Gulf since the beginning of the year.
In 2009, Eto’o won the Champions League with Barcelona playing alongside Xavi.
A year later he won Europe’s biggest club trophy with Inter, this time in the same side as Sneijder.
In Doha he will play in the #81 shirt – Eto’o was born in 1981 – and could make his debut as early as Friday when his new team take on Al-Sailiya in the Qatar Stars League.
His signing is a coup for Qatar Sports Club.
They have won eight league championships, but the last of those came in 2003 and they are not expected to challenge this season.
Last season they finished in mid-table in a 12-team league, a massive 36 points behind champions Al-Duhail.
They have played two games so far this season, winning one and losing the other.
Eto’o also said he was confident that Qatar would host a good World Cup.
Asked about fears over 2022, Eto’o pointed to the experience of Russia, where he played with Anzhi Makhachkala.
“A lot of people said it won’t be good.”
“I was playing in Russia and I heard a lot of things like that, and now Russia has held the best World Cup.”
“Qatar’s World Cup will be at the same level as Russia, or even better.”
Although some will be cynical about him playing in Qatar, Eto’o is likely to prove a big draw for the many African fans working in Qatar.
Many came to the home ground of Qatar Sports Club to cheer his arrival, decked out in Cameroon shirts and kissing posters of their hero.