FC Anji Makhachkala's Samuel Eto'o can play his 100th UEFA competition game in the last-16 decider at Newcastle United FC. "Records are important for any player," he said.
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Three times a UEFA Champions League winner, FC Anji Makhachkala forward Samuel Eto'o now stands on the brink of a significant personal milestone – his next appearance in European competition will be his 100th.
He could reach the three-figure mark on Thursday when Guus Hiddink's team face Newcastle United FC in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie. Ever-present in the Dagestan outfit's 15-game run from the second qualifying round to the verge of the quarter-finals, there is no reason to suggest he will not take the field at St James' Park. Anji were held 0-0 by Alan Pardew's side in last week's first leg.
"I've been lucky enough with my career and with what I've done so far," the former RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale Milano man told UEFA.com. "I've come back to the beginning of my career by moving to Anji. I'm as happy as I was when I started this beautiful job. Records are important for any player, but the most important thing for me is to look at the number of games played and the number of goals scored."
Score plenty of goals he certainly has. The history books tell you that two of the Cameroonian international's 44 continental strikes were in the UEFA Champions League finals of 2006 and 2009 for Barcelona. This season, his first full term with Anji following his arrival from Inter in August 2011, the 31-year-old has spearheaded the Russian Premier-Liga side's impressive surge from qualification onwards.
"It has been excellent so far, but what would top that would be to win it," said Eto'o, who has registered nine times since Anji began their campaign on 19 July against Budapest Honvéd FC. "This is what I wish for all my team-mates. And by team-mates I mean directors, players, coaching staff and myself. We know we have performed really well so far. The goal is to go as far as possible and why not reach the final."
Click on the video player above to hear the full interview with Eto'o.