Former Italy defender Marco Materazzi says it was not easy for Jose Mourinho to get the best out of Samuel Eto’o at Inter Milan following the forward’s arrival at the Nerazzurri on the backdrop of a broken relationship with his former coach Pep Guardiola.
Despite enjoying an incredible 2008/09 season in which he was La Liga top-scorer with 30 goals, to help Barcelona to a La Liga title, Copa del Rey and the Uefa Champions League, Eto’o was still shipped out by the Catalans.
But then Inter Milan coach Mourinho embraced the Cameroonian who arrived in Italy in a swap deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho also brought in Diego Milito from Genoa to partner Eto’o up front as well as midfielders Wesley Sneijder and Thiago Motta as Inter went on to claim the first treble in Italian football history, a record that still stands today.
The historic hattrick of silverware included the Serie A title, Coppa Italia and the Uefa Champions League.
Defender Materazzi, who was also part of that squad, says it was cheering up Eto’o who had felt unwanted at Barca which proved a task for the Portuguese coach.
“Eto’o had won the treble the previous year [with Barcelona]. Motivating him was not easy,” said Materazzi as per Mundo Deportivo.
“Jose, you know how many messages he sent to [Eto’o] say ‘they [Barcelona] transferred you thinking of improving themselves, sending you here so that we don’t win.’ Then he came here and made us win the treble.
“I think that year he was willing to do anything. He has won two trebles in a row, things that perhaps do not happen to anyone. He did it with two different teams. Stuff of another level.”
Eto’o finished the season with 12 league goals, being the second Inter Milan top-scorer behind Milito, who struck in 22.
Brazilian centre-back Lucio was another acquisition made by Mourinho as his compatriot Maxwell also left Inter for Barcelona just like Ibrahimovic.
A retiring Luis Figo and Hernan Crespo had also left Inter Milan.