Samuel Eto'o says hate of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho turned to love

By Ben SmithBBC Sport
Mourinho more than a manager - Eto'o

Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o has revealed that his close relationship with manager Jose Mourinho began with the two men hating each other.

The 32-year-old says the Portuguese was a key factor in his move to Chelsea after the pair combined to win the 2010 Champions League at Inter Milan.

But he told BBC Sport that they did not always get on so well.

"The relationship I have with Jose is something really interesting," he told Football Focus.

"At the start it was based on hate but that gradually grew into love."

Eto'o has signed a one-year deal with Chelsea, having moved from Russian Premier League team Anzhi Makhachkala on a free transfer.

The four-time African Footballer of the Year became the highest-paid player in the world when he moved to Anzhi in 2011, but has taken a £10m paycut in his annual salary, from £17m to £7m, to join the Stamford Bridge club.

Speaking at the launch of the first of nine graphic novels about his life, Eto'o said he was looking forward to working with Mourinho again, even if they had several run-ins during their time at Inter.

"I remember a game when we were fighting and we said some terrible things to each other," Eto'o said. "We both regretted it afterwards. But I like him because he talks through problems, he handles things like a man. Those are qualities I like. Every time I have the chance to work with him, I will seize the opportunity."

Eto'o went on to say that it was the Chelsea manager's straight-talking that set him apart.

Eto'o will be selected - Mourinho

"Jose is more than a coach to me. He is a man who talks the language of truth," he said.

"It is really important to have someone who tells the truth all the time. In our business sometimes we have people who don't."

The Cameroon striker claimed he had not expected to leave Russia this summer, despite the club's billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov selling off his biggest earners to significantly reduce the club's budget.

Eto'o said it was a phone call from Mourinho that changed his plans.

"I was feeling good in Russia, but then I got the phone call from Jose Mourinho asking me to come here," he said. "I thought it was another exciting chapter for me and I am really glad to be here. Chelsea is a fantastic club."

Eto'o started his career at Real Madrid but was loaned out to Leganes and Real Mallorca before making a permanent move to Mallorca in 1999. The striker, part of the Cameroon team that lifted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002, won the Copa del Rey before joining Barcelona in 2004.

During his time at the Nou Camp, he won the Champions League twice - in 2006 and 2009 - scoring in both finals, as well as winning the Spanish league three times.

In 2009, Barcelona paid Inter £40m plus Eto'o for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the striker went on to win the Champions League again in his first season under Mourinho at San Siro.

Watch new Chelsea striker Eto'o score at World Cup 2010