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Aiyegbeni will retire rather than play for Nigeria

Posted by Michael Walker on 2005/12/21 | Views: 764 |

Aiyegbeni will retire rather than play for Nigeria


Yakubu Aiyegbeni has informed Middlesbrough that he is prepared to retire from international football to avoid playing in the African Cup of Nations finals starting on January 20.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni has informed Middlesbrough that he is prepared to retire from international football to avoid playing in the African Cup of Nations finals starting on January 20.

At this stage Aiyegbeni has merely asked to be withdrawn from the Nigeria squad, having had a row with the head coach Augustine Eguavoen. But, if the Nigerian FA insists on the 23-year-old striker turning up, he has indicated he will announce his retirement. The NFA has yet to comment.

Middlesbrough, who had thought they might lose their 7.5m summer signing for up to seven matches, are quietly pleased with Aiyegbeni's stance and there must be a chance this will be the start of a trend. Other clubs expecting players to depart in January for Egypt can now be expected to use the Nigerian as an example, though Boro stressed yesterday that there was no coercion on their part.

"Nigeria requested he joined them on December 20," said Keith Lamb, Middlesbrough's chief executive. "It was not in the competition regulations. Yak has indicated to them that he doesn't wish to join the squad on this occasion. He has put forward the view it is a very important time for him with Middlesbrough. He is establishing himself within the team with hot competition from Mark Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. He feels that, if he has to play in the African Cup of Nations, on his return he might find it difficult to get back in the team.

"He has explained this to the Nigerian FA and they in turn are going to speak to the coach to see whether he can be withdrawn from the squad. We hope to have an answer in the next few days."

"We want it done amicably. We have a prudent track record that we encourage people to play international football. We even let the manager go" - a reference to Steve McClaren, Sven-Goran Eriksson's assistant coach with England.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, has defended his fellow Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien and said opponents are trying to fool referees into taking harsh action against the Ghana international. At Highbury on Sunday Arsenal players surrounded the referee Rob Styles after Essien's forearm made contact with Lauren, who went down clutching his face. Lampard said he has studied video footage of the incident several times and that Arsenal had over-reacted.

He said: "I have watched it several times and firstly Michael Essien was not looking in the direction of the player and secondly he did not make contact with the player's face which was the impression you got afterwards. He has been banned in Europe, fair enough, but on Sunday I think he was treated a bit badly."


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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.