Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has spoken of his admiration for Liverpool FC and English football in general during an interview with Four Four Two magazine. Eto'o was involved in a public row with boss Frank Rijkaard just before they met Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 clash and was linked with a move away from Spain. This was denied by the player's representatives at the time but the rumours are now set to resurface.
Eto'o said: "I like Liverpool's courage. They have a big red heart. They showed that against us. We did not underestimate them. You have to recognise that in the two games, Liverpool played extremely well. They defend well and are organised."
The Cameroon international singled out Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard in particular: "I like Gerrard. He runs a lot. He does everything well. Gerrard is the best English player. No, change that, at the moment he is the best player in England."
It's not just Liverpool he likes, he likes the difference in atmosphere here compared to Spain, but Anfield was probably the best example of it for him: "I watch English football. I like the crowd because it is always close to the pitch and the stadiums are always full. It's not always like that in Spain. We played at Anfield and it was very loud, with lots of different songs. I like that. Football is different in England. It has a place in English hearts. The atmosphere is great, they roar on their team. It's always like that."
He goes on: "The crowds get behind the team. It's not like that here. It's important that football should be played in grounds where the fans roar their teams. The fans in Spain love football in a different way – it's not a class thing, the fans are just different. What I love about England is that the fans have great respect for the players on and off the pitch."
As well as praising Gerrard, he also had praise for Arsenal striker Thierry Henry: "He is a great player. He is number one of the great players. Great players score goals and for me he is above everybody."
Despite his praise for the English game, Eto'o pointed out he's tied to Spain for three more years: "I have a contract here until 2010 and I am happy with that."