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Vienna

Sometimes us journalists expect more than we end up being given. Take Samuel Eto'o, for instance. Like a lot of big-name footballers this summer, he had been jetted into Vienna by the sportswear company he promotes as they looked to cash in on the worldwide interest in Euro 2008.

Naturally, we saw it as the chance to ask the Cameroon striker if he was on his way to England to play in the Premier League. This was, after all, a player had been told his Barcelona career was all but over by new coach Pep Guardiola.

So we trooped down to the Puma House in central Vienna to find out what the three-time African Footballer of the Year, still only 27, had to say. It didn't exactly go as we hoped.

Will Eto'o still be Barcelona player by the time the season starts?

It doesn't help when both the question and answer go via a translator. But I guess that's our fault for not being able to speak French or Spanish. Even if we had, I doubt very much if Eto'o would have played ball.

The closest thing we got to a story was when our little discussion had come to an end. A waiter appeared and placed a giant Wiener schnitzel sandwich in front of Eto'o and urged him to tuck in. A look of horror flicked across the player's face - and we didn't need anyone to decipher the subsequent exchange.

"Porc? Je suis musulman," he said. There was a brief moment of panic as members of his entourage tried to establish just what went into the Austrian delicacy. Finally, someone assured Eto'o that it was veal not pig. Satisfied he wasn't breaking any Islamic taboo, he wasted little time taking a bite.

One man who was only too happy to talk when I sat down with him for a chat was John Motson. The 62-year-old broadcaster will commentate on his last major football showpiece for BBC television on Sunday when he takes the mic for the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain.

I'd listened in to his earlier conversations with newspaper heavyweights James Lawton, Henry Winter, Brian Woolnough, Martin Lipton and Matt Lawton. It was a joy to hear him regaling them with tales from his long and illustrious career.

There were two nuggets I particularly enjoyed.

Firstly, he reminded everyone that there had been no names on players' shirts and no television replays when he started commentating. In this day and age, when a player's name is splashed on the back of his top in large letters and an incident is analysed from umpteen different angles, it's easy to forget just how tough it must have been for Motty way back when.

Secondly, one of Motty's famous and detailed "crib" sheets - from England's 5-1 thrashing of Germany in 2001 - had fetched £1900 at a charity auction.

It's worth pointing out that Motty isn't ready for retirement just yet. He will continue commentating on Premier League games for both Match of the Day and Radio 5 Live.

Phil Gordos is a senior broadcast journalist at BBC Sport Interactive. Please check our FAQs if you have any questions.


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