Pep’s a coward… he hardly spoke to me at Barcelona! Eto’o lifts the lid on his feud with Guardiola
Samuel Eto’o has hit out at Pep Guardiola, saying he was a cowardly manager and never a ‘great’ player.
The Chelsea striker played under Guardiola at Barcelona during the 2008-09 season but says the Spaniard barely spoke to him, using other players to communicate.
He said that the manager told him he should move to Uzbekistan and also stripped him of the No 9 shirt, which he considered ‘a total lack of respect’.
Although Guardiola and Eto’o were at odds with each other, the forward still scored 30 times in his final season in Catalonia.
Key man: Eto’o was popular in the Barcelona dressing room
Deadly: Barcelona striker Eto’o scores against Manchester United in 2009 Champions League final
During the season Guardiola only spoke to Eto’o on a handful of occasions.
Eto’o said: ‘Guardiola has never had the courage to say things in front of me. He passed by the players. Xavi told me they wanted me to stay but I had to talk to Pep. I say “never, if you do not respect me, I do not respect you”.
‘He shook hands with me when I was at Inter and I played against Barca, but this was just for the cameras and TV. Behind the scenes before the match, he did not greet me.’
Eto’o named three occasions when Guardiola spoke to him that season.
One was when he wanted Eto’o to speak to Yaya Toure, who didn’t want to talk to Guardiola either.
Another was to tell him how to perform as a striker. Eto’o explained: ‘Pep told me how to move like a striker. I told him: “You’re not normal!” The true story is that Pep didn’t respect the things in football.’
The striker found far happier times under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan the following season, and has linked up with the Portuguese boss again this term at Stamford Bridge.
Positive: Eto’o enjoyed a successful spell under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan
Partnership: Eto’o has no problems with Chelsea boss Mourinho
In charge: Pep Guardiola is now head coach at Bayern Munich
Mourinho infamously had a running battle with Guardiola when he became Real Madrid manager in 2010.
Earlier this season the striker was not impressed with Mourinho when the Chelsea coach joked about his age.
But Eto’o says he has no problem with Mourinho.
He explained: ‘He becomes someone else in the build-up to matches. Like any human being, he sometimes loses his reason. He proved it sometimes, like when he did it with me, but he takes all the pressure on himself.’
By Rik Sharma