I tutored the highest-paid footballer in the world

‘He didn’t have the best attention span’


Leeds grad Rebecca Prew had a more interesting spell overseas than most doing a year abroad – when she taught English to football superstar Samuel Eto’o.

The French and Russian student taught the Cameroon legend during his spell at Russian football team Anzhi Makhachkala, when he was reportedly the highest-paid player in the world.

Linguist Rebecca applied for the chance to earn some extra money when told about the job by a professional tutor who had to turn Eto’o down.

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Rebecca, right, in Moscow

The 23-year-old said: “I had no idea who he was, which I think got me the job. They said they wanted someone who could teach him without being awestruck.

“His personal assistant told me not to fall for him.”

Derbyshire-born Rebecca was struck by the former Chelsea and Barcelona forward’s wealth, but he didn’t impress too much as a pupil.

“He lived in a very up-and-coming part of Moscow, and always had his entourage with him.

“His apartment wasn’t that huge, but he had a personal chef and physio there.

“Everything in his apartment was designer, and he often spoke about the yacht parties he’d been on with his team mates.

“As a student, he was absolutely rubbish. He had a terrible attention span. The football was typically always on in the background.”

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The surreal experience lasted for three months in 2012, as Eto’o brushed up on his English while eyeing a move to the Premier League.

This meant Rebecca was in the know when it came to top-secret transfer news. His life was well shielded, and she was never able to take a photograph with the star.

“He was often visiting the UK, and he talked about visiting Liverpool a few times so I presumed he might be going there. Obviously I had to keep this all private.

“They gave me his personal e-mail address so I could send him homework to do. When I arrived for lessons he’d often have his finished homework in front of him, with a big smile on his face like a happy kid.”

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Rebecca was paid 40 euros an hour for her troubles.

“It wasn’t crazy money, but it clearly wasn’t that much to him. He’d pay me in cash from a money holder that was bursting with 500, 100 and 50 euro notes.

“He struck me as quite youthful, and very keen to learn even if he didn’t have the best attention span.

“I really enjoyed teaching him, he was a very interesting character with a cheeky smile

“He didn’t like to talk about his childhood, but he was amazed at the fact he’d gone from growing up in Cameroon to becoming the highest-paid player in the world.”

 

Samuel Eto’o left Russia a few months after Rebecca stopped tutoring him, joining Chelsea, where he scored nine goals in twenty-one appearances. He now plays in Turkey for Antalyaspor.