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BARCELONA-INTER

Eto'o: "I raised Messi like a son"

Samuel Eto'o has given an interview ahead of the Champions League clash between his two former clubs, Barcelona and Inter Milan, admitting that he hopes Lionel Messi doesn't play.

Eto'o: "I raised Messi like a son"

Ex-Barcelona and -Inter Milan striker, Samuel Eto'o, has confessed that he would prefer if Lionel Messi did not play in the Champions League clash between his two former clubs at Camp Nou on Wednesday, saying that the recovering number 10, who sat out Barça’s last game against Getafe, would make the game an unbalanced affair.

“Barcelona started the league badly because Messi has played very little. If he plays, we’ll see the real Barcelona. I hope he does not play against Inter for my heart. I want it to be a close match and if Messi plays it is more difficult,” Eto'o said in an interview published by Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I raised Messi almost like a son. I have great respect for Maradona, but the players who scored the most in modern football were Ronaldo (Nazario), Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo," he added.

Eto'o played five years at Barcelona and three at Inter, winning everything with both teams, and stressed that those experiences have shaped him forever.

Samuel Eto'o with former Barcelona team mate Xavi and the Champions League trophy.

“Barcelona was the showcase that allowed me to make millions of African boys dream and make them believe that everything is possible in life. Inter confirmed it, it was the next step. I won two consecutive trebles with two different teams," he explained.

Eto’o on Inter, Lukaku and racism

The Cameroonian, who won two Champions Leagues with Barcelona and one with Inter, also expressed his desire to see the Milan outfit raise another European Cup.

“My dream is to celebrate the next Champions League won by Inter in the San Siro” he said, before praising Romelu Lukaku, who has already scored four goals for the Serie A giants since joining from Manchester United at the start of the season.

Eto’o recognised the Belgian striker both for his performances on the pitch and the manner in which he has condemned the latest racist incidents in Italian football.

“I experienced it more outside the pitch, where when they don't recognize you they treat you in one way and, when they do, they change their attitude,” added the former Cameroon international.

“[FIFA president Gianni] Infantino said something very important at The Best gala: ‘No more talking, there must be action’. We need tough rules also in football, not just a fine.”