Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o has told the Guardian he believes this World Cup could help end racism in European football.
"It's never been easy and until the end of my career it won't be easy," he said. "But maybe this World Cup, being the first in Africa, can change attitudes. I hope so but I suffered a lot in Italy this year. It's not just one country where there is racism.
"I'm so proud to be African in this World Cup. Like most Africans, I had to work much harder and show much deeper belief than others. I started with nothing and reached the level I'm at today.
"All I had was football and God's help, but I made it and now I'm going home, to Africa, where we can show a different face to the world.
"It's always been a very tough journey for African footballers, and it's still tough today. I suffered a lot. I had to deal with it so often I found ways of making a point against racism."
Pele famously predicted an African side would win the World Cup by the year 2000, but no team has yet gone further than the quarter-finals.
With 2010 the first World Cup to be held in Africa, Eto'o was asked if this tournament would finally provide the breakthrough.
"The real question is whether the world is ready for an African team to become champions," he replied. "We've covered a lot of ground in the last 20 years and in Europe so many leading players are African. If we prepare properly then one of the African teams can do something special."