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If UEFA Champions League final success made FC Internazionale Milano the first Italian side to win Serie A, Coppa Italia and Europe's top club prize in one season, trebles are hardly a novelty for Samuel Eto'o. Indeed, given the rate he acquires medals at, the 1,000m² apartment he bought in Milan last month may soon be too small for his trophy cabinet.
Having also won last year's UEFA Champions League as part of a triple crown with FC Barcelona, the Internazionale striker is entitled to say, "You need to have the perfect team to win everything." Yet his own contribution to these European conquests, even without the gloss of a goal in Saturday's Santiago Bernabéu final, has been a significant one.
Coach José Mourinho had sung the Cameroon international's praises before the weekend, saying: "Eto'o sets a great example. Of course he is a player with a big reputation, and of course he is a forward, but when the team is going through a difficult moment and they need someone to do extra work, he is the first to do it."
The 29-year-old showed such graft in Inter's 2-0 final victory, especially early in the second half as FC Bayern München pushed to cancel out Diego Milito's opener. Nonetheless, he was modest as he reflected on his latest coup. "I'm not an expert at winning competitions," he said. "You have to have the right team-mates, the right coach. I've been lucky to play for great clubs, which has allowed me to win these trophies."
The final itself was much as Eto'o had expected. "We were confident," he said. "We knew we needed to score to win, and we were lucky to score around the half-hour mark. Once we got to half-time at 1-0, we knew the game would be more open in the second half. They came back strongly – and could have equalised – but we had a great goalkeeper in Júlio César. Then, at 2-0, it became more difficult for them."
Milito's Bernabéu double took his season tally to 30, including goals in the Coppa Italia final and the Nerazzurri's Scudetto-clinching victory at AC Siena on the last day of the Italian campaign. "He scored twice in the final, he had a great game," said the No9. "Congratulations to Diego and to all my team-mates."
Eto'o may have missed out on matching Alfredo di Stéfano's record of scoring in three European Champion Clubs' Cup finals, having netted in the 2006 and 2009 editions for Barcelona, yet the treble represented substantial consolation. "The biggest thing for me wasn't about scoring, it was the team," he said. "We had to win and we did – so we are happy."
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