Posted by dailysun on
Taribo West means different things to different folks. To some people, he was a rugged defender, who went all out to achieve his ambition.....
Taribo West means different things to different folks. To some people, he was a rugged defender, who went all out to achieve his ambition, while to others, he is an instrument in the Lordís vineyard.
Taribo is a clear testimony of someone who rose from grass to grace. But for football, he might have ended up as a street urchin. Hence, he never fails to give glories to God at any least opportunity. Even those who helped him build his career have something to show for it.
Recently, the footballer spoke to Saturday Sunsport and revealed how he became a pastor and how God used a powerful women of God to track him down. He also spoke of his journey into fame with the round leather game.
How I was called
I got the inspiration to serve God about 10 years ago. It was during the Atlanta Olympic Games in the United States of America. There, I ran into a very powerful woman of God, who said she heard the voice of God, which asked her to come to our base and speak to somebody whom God wanted to use.
When she came, it was like a fairy tale, but after we won the Olympic gold in the football event, the woman came to me and shared her vision with me. We later talked for a couple of months before she came to my place in Italy and from then, I felt the hand of God in my life, which got me delivered from my bad ways. And till date, the woman has been giving me prophecies and my life has never been the same.
Prayers during matches
Those prayers were not ordinary; football matches are circumvented with circumstances and great challenges. It is a power game, and from my experience, most people in the field play the game with all kinds of things.
However, I came to realise that something is more powerful and beneficial than the game itself. So, as a player in the field, one of the things which gave me true encourage, was the Word (of God). It inspires and helps to push me forward.
Against Cameroon at the Nations Cup in 2000 for instance, somehow, every one of us knew that something was wrong. That day wasnít just our day. I prayed through the weeks and months before the game, but that day, I had to struggle in my prayers.
However, God gave me a sign, which helped me to understand that the day would be a difficult one for Nigeria. All the same, God proved that He was still God. In that game, we were two goals down before Tijani Babangida came from the bench and scored our first goal before Jay Jay Okocha got us the equaliser. After the regulation time, we went into penalty shootouts, but unfortunately, we lost at last.
That was a very sad day for me, but the Bible says, in everything, give thanks to the Lord. So, at the end of the day, I was happy. Though we went for the gold, we came home with silver, which I took in good fate. However, I was convinced that at the Lordís appointed time, we would get to our destination. So, I was happy in spite of all the odds.
Journey into football
My interest in football started in Port Harcourt. As a young boy, I would leave home very early in the morning to play football on the streets. From the streets, I started going to the stadium. In fact, at a point, I was like a stadium boy, following all those big players like Richard Owobokiri, Davidson Owumi, Rowland Ohufe, David Ngodigha and others around. My mates and I were like ball boys to them. And in the process, they created a feeder team for Sharks of Port Harcourt, which was handled by Coach Monday Sinclair.
I started there as a young player and when I realised I had the needed talent for the game, I decided to take football as a career.
I came to Lagos and joined Ibukun Oluwa FC owned by Chief Adewale Teluwo, whom I owe a lot. We were three that met him the same day and he asked us to tell him what we wanted to do. I told him that I would want to further my education.
I was not really going to school regularly then because I had no sponsor. So, I was more into playing football than going to school. But I wanted to go to school.
Chief Teluwo took us as players in his club and as well put us in schools. He was also paying us a monthly stipend of N80 each.
In 1989, Chief Teluwo bought a team in the amateur league. Then, there were quite some good teams in the amateur division like Enyimba, Kano Pillars, NEPA of Lagos, First Bank, etc. So, the league was highly competitive. We played in the league that season and I think we came out either eighth or ninth on the table at that first attempt.
I played a lot of games for the club, we played against Sharks also. By then, Sinclair had been promoted to chief coach of Sharks and he thereafter invited me to play for Sharks.
I played for the Port Harcourt team for one season and joined Enugu Rangers, where I came to limelight. I played for Rangers for one year and moved to Julius Berger, where I also played for one year. It was when I was with Berger that we had the African Cup of Nations competition in Mauritius. We didnít really have a good tournament then, but I played just a game.
In Mauritius, I came in as a substitute during the second half and played between 10 to 15 minutes. It was there that a football manager saw me. The man said he went to Nigeria to look for a very good youth defender, who was doing very well in the league and somebody directed him to me. I think it was Samson Siasia that told him that Taribo West was the stuff he was searching for.
So, the manager came to our camp and followed me to the tournament. He watched me during those 10 to 15 minutes I played in Mauritius and thereafter, invited me to France for trials.
I did very well in the trials in France and from there, I signed a three-year semi-professional contract, but in my fourth year, I signed my professional contract. That was how I started my professional career with Auxerre.
I spent four years and half in Auxerre before I signed another contract to play for Inter Milan. It was in Inter that I explodedÖ (prolonged laughter).
I still have about one or two years to play football. Iíve not really called it quits, but after my experience in Plymouth, I just decided to go home to do Godís work, because in the past few years, God has revealed so many things to me and I see myself battling against His directives.
I just believe God, and when a man fails to listen to Him, He has a way of taking his peace away. In dealing with God, if you donít want peace, you take trouble.
I just decided to work in the ministry for a while, but Iím praying that He should just allow me to play for one or two more years before I quit finally.
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