Eto'o was looking to leave Real Madrid at the time after failing to get enough chances to impress at the Bernabeu, and had already been loaned out to Leganes and Espanyol.
The Cameroon international was still just a teenager, but then Mallorca boss Luis Aragones showed faith in the young striker and managed to lure him to Son Moix just when Arsene Wenger was poised to snap him up instead.
"I met Luis at a crucial moment in my life where I had to take the right direction - and thanks to him I did," Eto'o told The Sun.
"I was about to sign that very afternoon at Arsenal and maybe I would have never been the player I am today.
"Luis picked me, then I ended up joining Barcelona. That decision changed everything."
Eto'o initially signed for Mallorca on loan and after scoring six goals in 19 La Liga appearances, he made a permanent club-record £4.4million switch in the summer of 2000.
After winning the Copa del Rey in 2003, he signed for Barcelona the following year and landed two Champions League titles with the Catalan club before repeating the achievement with his next club Inter Milan.
The four-time African Player of the Year now finds himself in the Chelsea ranks after his summer switch from Anzhi Makhachkala and is set to make his debut in the Saturday Night Football encounter at Everton in the Premier League.
Eto'o added: "I had lots of opportunities to come to England, but I am glad to finally be here now."
The 32-year-old has previously admitted that he did not always see eye to eye with Jose Mourinho during their time together with Inter, but says the attraction of working with the Portuguese boss again brought home to west London.
Eto'o told Sky Sports News: "After all that's happened in Russia over the last couple of months, I had a few proposals from European clubs - but none of them had Jose Mourinho.
"It was an opportunity for me to team up with him again, and have the opportunity to continue working with him like I did at Inter Milan. And that is the reason I am here."