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Samuel Eto'o candid interview on Guardiola and Rijkaard
Dynastian98 2 months ago
Real Madrid 481 7112

Transcribing just a small portion of the interview that focuses on Guardiola and Rijkaard.

Interviewer: Okay, he comes to the team and says these three aren't in my plans: Deco, Ronaldinho, and Samuel Eto'o.

Samuel Eto'o: Not only is he mistaken, but he's deeply mistaken. But you already know this business with the media. You have good kids and you have ugly kids - and I have always been the ugly kid. And it was my role. But I had a very important role in the locker room, where I could look anyone in the eyes and tell them anything.

I had an injury to my meniscus, and I had to rest for 7 months, so I decided to do rehab in my home in Mallorca. That was a mistake, because then there was no communication [between me and Barcelona]. And when you have a locker room like Barcelona where great players can't talk to each other, then there is a problem.

Barcelona's strength was that it was a group of young players who liked to have fun together. When we entered a stadium, you could see that there was a certain camaraderie. What we shared was more than training sessions or football matches. We had dinner together, we danced together, we had our own little secrets. And all of this was dead when I came back. It was dead.

Since I like to tell the truth, and for me it is good to always say the truth, [I think of] that day when Ronnie made a mistake in my return game against Real Sociedad. Fran [Rijkaard] asks me, "Do you want to start the game or do you want to wait?" I said, "Fran, I would rather play the last 20 minutes", hoping Barcelona is already winning 3-0 or 4-0. It is easier that way for a player who hasn't played for 7 months.

Unfortunately, Fran made three substitutions and I'm still warming up on the sidelines. Then I come back to the bench and tell Eusebio, "We made three substitutions so I'm going to sit down." It was simple - I wasn't angry. I'm coming back, it's just my first game. I knew at some point I was going to play. Fran goes to the press conference and he's asked, "Why didn't Samuel play?" He says, "I don't know, I sent him to warm up but he didn't want to."

But I was warming up, and when I had come back he had already made three substitutions. And Ronnie, who barely talked to the media or just smiled and walked by, says a small sentence, and I'm like, "Is this guy okay?" Because if there was someone who wasn't mistake-free, it was Ronnie. But we loved him like that, and we knew it.

When I talk to Eden Hazard, I use Ronnie as an example. I say, Ronaldinho was the best player in the world, maybe the best player of all time, because he was unbelievably good. But if a player doesn't train every day, it pays cash after a while. It pays. You can be Ronaldinho or you can be Messi, but if you don't train, Monsieur Eden Hazard, then we will forget about you in 2 years. And football goes by so fast that another kid who is better is going to come, and that will be it.

So when Ronnie says it, I wait one day for an apology, and then two days for an apology, and I get none. Something is wrong in these people's heads. And then I take over and try to put things back in order, but since I was the ugly kid for the media, they put everything on me. But what they forgot to say was, in 2006, and Ludovic Giuly is often here with you, [he can attest to this]... Fran didn't talk to the locker room at half-time when we were losing to Arsenal. I was the one who gave the speech. I talked. I told them what I think of every one of them. When we came back, we saw another Barcelona team, and we won that trophy. I don't care [about credit], the most important thing was for us to win.

And it was inconceivable to see a group of young kids with so much talent losing a game to Arsenal. It was inconceivable.

Interviewer: And how did you take that message a few weeks later when Guardiola comes in and says, "Eto'o, Deco, Ronaldinho - out!"

Samuel Eto'o: Well, I first reminded Guardiola that he was a good player - never a great player. It's true. I told him. And I said, if it was coach Luis [Fernandez, who is on the set right now] who told me that, I'd say, "Okay, I can't say anything".

As a player, we know. We know Pep. But especially as a coach, he didn't show anything for him to come into a locker room like Barcelona. He didn't know the story of the locker room for him to say certain things. What hurt me more was that they were inventing stuff that the media was relaying.

I had that discussion with him, and I had a very good offer to go play in Uzbekistan for 6 months, where they would pay me 26 million dollars. In his office with Txiki [Berigistain], he tells me, "Oh, Samuel, that's a good offer for you. You should go." And I told him, "The one that will make you win is me, but you will have to ask for forgiveness."

And I stayed there, I kept training and we went to the US. When we were in Houston, in the locker room, he says before the game, "Okay we're going to change jersey numbers." Everyone says, "Oh, the coach is doing this now? Surprising." He says, "Titi [Henry], you take Samuel's #9, and Eto'o will wear #14."

Everyone was shocked. And that was a total lack of respect. I could not allow that [to happen]. Because I had written a beautiful story in Barcelona, and even if it had to stop there, I had done a lot for the club. On the field, but especially off the field. I was always there for my teammates, for my club.

Interviewer: You stayed one year with Pep.

Samuel Eto'o: Hold on, I'll tell you. So they're playing, and I stay on the bench. A few days later we play against a Mexican team - Chivas. And he has the bad luck to give me 20 minutes. I thought he could go shoot a bullet in his own head. In those 20 minutes, I scored 3 goals. When we come back in New York against Red Bulls, he sends me back in there and I score 3 more goals.

He was obligated to organize a reunion. But since he never had the courage to say things to my face, he tried going through my teammates. I was eating dinner, and the representative, Carlos Naval, comes to me and says, "Come, I've got a surprise for you." I got excited, thinking it was Beyonce waiting for me. I get there and I see Jorquera, Puyol, Leo, Andres, Xavi, and Victor [Valdes], who was one of my closest friends. And I see Pep in the back of the room and my face changes, because I get very aggressive when I see Pep.

My face changes, and he didn't talk. So Maquina Xavi starts and tells me, "Negro, like we always said before and showed - we want you to stay. But you need to get along with Pep." I say, "I'm not talking to Pep. He has to apologize to me because he disrespected me openly several times and I won't let that pass." For me, if you don't respect me then I won't respect you. That's how it works for me. I suffered to get here. I respect everyone, but if you don't respect me, then I don't respect you. Then I will do double, even triple, of what you did to me. Pep didn't speak Catalan, he found words difficult.

We start the season, and I spoke to Pep just two times. Two times. One time he wanted me to go speak to Yaya [Toure], who didn't want to hear anything from Pep, and the other time he wanted to give me tips on how forwards should move. I told him, "Pep, you were a midfielder. You were not a great forward." How do I score my goals? [The movement Pep was showing me] was not how I did it.

When we were in training, I made a move without the ball to create space for Leo, who was coming. And even though Leo scores, he tells me, "No, no, no, you should have done-" and I tell him, "You're not normal." At the end of the season, I believe I scored 35 goals [Eto'o scored 36 goals in 08-09, only behind Messi's 38 on the team], and I scored the goal that gave us the advantage against Manchester in Rome, in the Champions League final.

We go to La Coruna, I score 2 goals in that game, and I had to go soon to play against Togo with the Lions. We have dinner, and plenty of drinks [with Barca in La Coruna]. I don't drink, but everybody was letting themselves go. And he says, "I'm going to make a toast, really, we should be thanking Samuel because it was a difficult season for him, but he showed how great of a player he is, bla bla bla", a nice speech. That was the first time I trusted Guardiola, and it cost me my passport for Inter Milan.

Interviewer: And since you met with him while you were playing for Inter, we have a picture of you.

enter image description here

Samuel Eto'o: Look at my face. Guardiola saw me in the tunnel. Did he greet me in the tunnel? He didn't. He waited until the cameras were on him. Look at Thierry Henry's face, it says everything. They saw everything. We were all in the tunnel.

Look at Leo. Look at Leo Messi's face. We were all in the tunnel. [Guardiola] didn't greet me. He waited for all the cameras to be on him to come and greet me. Obviously, I couldn't refuse. Since I was the outcast, I was the ugly kid, they were going to say Samuel is acting like a fool again. But people didn't know what went on behind the scenes.

Dynastian98 2 months ago
Real Madrid 481 7112

I changed some of the wording because French expressions don't literally translate to English well, so if you find his actual French interview, you will notice I shuffled the grammatical structure slightly so that English-speakers have a better time reading this. This interview was in 2014, I believe. Not 100% sure, though.

srk_rox 2 months ago
Liverpool 4 437

Going by his interview, Eto'o is an acerbic and straightforward guy.
In real world, people around a straightforward guy feel overwhelmed and intimidated. They don't want anyone to speak truth, especially if the guy is junior/inferior to you.

ramaboy10 2 months ago
Mauritius 285 6453

Guardiola seems to have weird problems dealing with players. I remember reading Zlatan's book and he had similar problems.

Ledley 2 months ago
Celtic, Australia 26 976

@Dynastian you did a great Job translating I could understand this very well. Especially so how I heard Ibrahimovic was let go by Pep not talking to him.

I would love to hear what some of the Bayern players think 🤔, since it was a different language and culture to back some of this stuff up.

Dynastian98 2 months ago
Real Madrid 481 7112

Yaya Toure:

"He insists he has no problem with black players, because he is too intelligent to be caught out. But when you realize he has problems with Africans, wherever he goes, I ask myself questions. He will never admit it. But the day he will line up a team in which we find five Africans, not naturalized, I promise I will send him a cake."

“Pep likes to dominate and wants to have obedient players who lick his hands. I do not like this kind of relationship. I respect my coach but I am not his thing. Like all players I have bickered with my coaches. But at a certain point men who do not understand each other reconcile. This is not possible with Pep, who is very rigid. The other players will never admit it publicly but some have already told me that they ended up hating him. Because he manipulates and plays a lot with your head.”

“I think I was dealing with someone who just wanted revenge on me. I do not know why but I have the impression that he was jealous of me, that he took me for a rival. There you have it. We always looked at each other weirdly. He was spinning around me without saying anything, watching me, gauging me but not talking to me. Yet he knows that I speak Catalan, Spanish and English. It should be enough to communicate. But apparently no ... Every time we passed each other, he seemed embarrassed. As if I made him a little self-conscious. As if, also, he had understood that I knew him perfectly.”

“As someone proud, he wants to succeed with his players, those he has chosen and not those who have been chosen by others. This is his project. And woe to him who does not belong to it. Actually I want to be the one who breaks the Guardiola myth a bit. Barcelona, he did not invent it. He just had the intelligence to adapt what Cruyff had set up. Then, at Bayern and City, he tried to reproduce the same patterns but with this requirement: working with ‘his’ players and with almost unlimited means. It would not work at Crystal Palace or Watford.”

"I would have preferred to have no ceremony and leave with my head higher. I have the impression that Pep, without acknowledgment or respect, did everything to spoil my last season. It hurts when you spent eight years in a club. He stole my farewells with City, a club where the fans are beautiful. I would have liked to leave with emotion of this club as could Iniesta or Buffon. But Pep prevented me."

amir_keal 2 months ago
Arsenal, Netherlands 65 2762

Although Pep does sound like a dick, Eto'o isn't completely right either.

he wanted to give me tips on how forwards should move. I told him, "Pep, you were a midfielder. You were not a great forward

That's not really how your meant to talk to your manager.

Marcus2011 2 months ago
Chelsea FC, England 270 6042


Players talk like that at times. Ramos famously fired back at Mourinho, after he was criticized for his display against Dortmund in CL semi final, that he never played professional football and he doesn't know what he is talking about. That is called player power.

I feel like Eto was just as guilty but it all started with Guardiolas disrespectful introduction of himself into the team. Eto really does go two, three times more disrespectful back for being disrespected..

Marcus2011 2 months ago
Chelsea FC, England 270 6042

So is Yaya implying that Guardiola is racist? Perhaps, he can be but one thing is for sure he likes to have control and full obedience. Isn't it normal for any Manager to do so? I think there a truth on both sides in this area.

It seems like all the players that had issue with Guardiola were straightforward and intimidating players like @srk said. Guardiola perhaps doesn't know how to manage such players, and how to reconcile with them after conflict to have harmonious working environment as well as mutual respect. I don't think he is weak as a manager, but more like a personality when he faces strong straightforward people who are ready to go extra to challenge his authority. i think he just thinks such players are easier to dispose rather than try to find the right type of communication, and one of the easy ways to do it is to isolate them in the team and avoid them at all cost. I am a straightforward guy and i have a lot of friends like that, this method is just going to escalate the conflict. We actually like discipline if it is done right way with respect and challenge. Guardiolas way is wrong and stupid approach. Kind of , what we call a b*tch move. That is why Zlatan called him not " a man" .

raimondo90 2 months ago
Valencia, Argentina 89 2481

Well I think this is nothing new about management. Of you take over a team and there are players who don't fit your standards or are disruptive to you or the team you will most likely isolate/demote them. It's not always easy to actually sell a player, especially if the board is hesitant or don't have a replacement.

Every manager can decide what time of management he wants to implement. Some player hate being corrected and feel disrespected even though in reality they should do exactly what the manager is telling them to do. If not what's the point of having a manager?

At the end of the day you can't please 100% of the people who work under you and when people have big egos they get offended easily.

tiki_taka 2 months ago
Barcelona, France 353 9450

Well in a group of 22, only 11 will be happy. 14 if the rotations are well balanced...
Etoo had a horrible image due to media and Pep only focused on that. He fired Ronaldinho and bought Henry to replace Etoo without talking to the player. I think Pep disrespected Etoo, but then won 6 trophies over 6 his first season and thanks to Etoo.

For Yaya Toure, well it’s difficult, PeP was coaching Pedro, Piqué and Busquets at Barca B. He knew That Busquets will fit the team more. Sad for Yaya but he had to compete with a world class player trusted by the coach.

Pep is political correct and hypocrit, he isn’t direct and I understand Ibra and Etoo point of view. But he got a vision and his results were good. What matters most.

Joe Hart hates him probably, Kolarov, Zabaleta.... big coaches are those who take big decisions.

But Etoo interview In bein sport France was legendary, Boumsong, Jean pierre Papin and Luis Fernandez spent all interview laughing...

Ledley 2 months ago
Celtic, Australia 26 976

What do the current Barca players think of Pep, do they want him back or not really. Im talking the current players who played under him