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Should he do what he does best against FC Bayern München in the UEFA Champions League final, FC Internazionale Milano's Samuel Eto'o will make history by becoming the second player to score in three different European Champion Clubs' Cup showpieces.
The Cameroon international struck in the 2006 victory against Arsenal FC and netted three years later as FC Barcelona defeated another Premier League side, Manchester United FC. If he makes it a hat-trick, Eto'o will be in illustrious company – joining Real Madrid CF great Alfredo di Stéfano as the only players to achieve such a feat.
"Those two finals were against English teams," Eto'o told UEFA.com. "This will be a new kind of experience – me at a different club, coming up against a great Bayern team. Let's wait and see."
Internazionale supporters will be counting on the 29-year-old's big-match experience when the Nerazzurri contest their first final of Europe's premier club competition in 38 years. Eto'o, however, is taking nothing for granted despite having two winners' medals in his locker already. "
I'm not counting all the trophies I have won or that I will win," he said. "The most important thing for me is always the next game. I leave it to others to do the sums."
His focus, he insists, is purely on helping Italy's new champions add to their two European crowns won under Argentinian coach Helenio Herrera in successive seasons in the 1960s. "This has to be the aim," he said. "I know there are thousands of Inter fans dreaming about it, but if it turns into an obsession, we will miss out."
However, the dream could well become reality thanks in part to boss José Mourinho. "José is unique as a coach and as a human being," the No9 said of the man who has guided Inter to the Santiago Bernabéu final. "He's unique, he's a one-off. He says what he thinks."
Yet a trainer cannot make his mark without the right players, and vice versa. Mourinho has duly praised Eto'o for his hard work and desire to put the team first throughout his debut San Siro campaign. "That formula makes for great results," said the forward signed from Barcelona last summer. "Until now, José has found the right formula for his squad. This creates the right relationship and brings good results."
Louis van Gaal has had a similar effect on Bayern, steering the Bavarians to the Bundesliga and German Cup double in his first term at the helm. "It's not only Van Gaal – it's the whole team, the coach, the players," said Eto'o. "Those are the strengths of Bayern. The coach prepares the strategy. The players then have to be able to do what the coach wants."
Although eager to champion the opposition's many qualities, Eto'o singled out the class of Bayern captain Mark van Bommel, his former Camp Nou team-mate. "He's a leader, a great player.
I've had the opportunity to meet great players throughout my career and he is a real champion," said the one-time Real Madrid CF and RCD Mallorca attacker. "He has a great mentality – he's always positive. He's a warrior, he gives everything. He's a decisive weapon for his team."
Given his success rate in the UEFA Champions League, Eto'o is well-placed to offer his Inter collleagues some final advice: "You need to have the right mindset, you need to be competitive and you must be willing to give everything."
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