by Matthew Kenyon
Samuel Eto'o seems a surprising pick for African footballer of the year.
After all he has spent most of 2007 sitting on the sidelines.
Two lengthy injuries have kept him out of action for both Barcelona and Cameroon.
And despite lots of optimism about his potential recovery, Eto'o has, at the time of writing, made just one appearance for Barca this season.
So it is not his performances on the pitch which earned him a place on the shortlist. The fact is that Eto'o is a much more than a football star.
Arguably the highlight of his year so far has been the news that he is to be the face of Africa's first ever World Cup, in South Africa in 2010.
It is not a surprising choice.
Eto'o may star for the Indomitable Lions and Barcelona, but his influence and popularity stretch way beyond the confines of Cameroon and Catalonia.
He was alongside the great Pele when the pair presented Nelson Mandela with a commemorative shirt to mark his 89th birthday in July.
And he has been vocal in his condemnation of the racism that he and other African players have been subjected to when playing in some parts of Europe.
The choice of Eto'o by the World Cup organisers will "give this continent a face, a human face in football", according to the head of Fifa, Sepp Blatter.
It also emphasises the determination of Fifa and the Local Organising Committee to make SA 2010 an African tournament, not just a South African one.
So he may not have done much on the pitch this year, but Samuel Eto'o has still been very influential in 2007.
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