Former Eagles’ defender, Pastor Taribo West reveals…
•Says: ‘Dreadlocks ended with my football career’
By EMMA NJOKU
Many years after he hung his soccer boots, former Super Eagles’ defence ace, Pastor Taribo West, has revealed that his unique trademark hairstyle was a concept that made him a brand in his active days in the round leather game. The new-look West, who currently wears a near-clean shaved hairstyle, however, said that the familiar dreadlocks now belong to the past, just like his professional football career. “Everything has its season.
The dreadlocks have gone with my football career,” the rock-solid defender stated in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sunsports recently. He went on: “I’m in another phase of my life now. I’ve retired from football satisfactorily and I’m having a happy time with my family. I’m now a simple man, living a normal life outside the football pitch.” He explained the difference between Taribo West, the footballer, and Pastor Taribo West outside the football pitch. “Taribo West the footballer is different from Taribo West outside the football pitch.
As Taribo West the footballer, I made a brand of myself with my unique dreadlocked hairstyle. I was able to sell myself to the football world. Now that I’ve retired from football, I’m trying to live a normal life like every other person. People thought that my dreadlocked hairdo was fetish, but there was no such thing. “I had the quality and ability as a defender. It was difficult to beat me on a 50-50 situation. I was very fast with the ball and whenever I moved upfront, I was usually dangerous.
So, in order to play myself into global prominence, I had to create a brand of myself. I was unique. Somehow, that brand was my concept and it paid off. Besides, the hairstyle was also a strategy to scare the opponents,” he further revealed. Pastor West, who was at the recently concluded Lagos Soccerex, spoke on the event and other issues bordering on Nigerian football. Impression about Lagos Soccerex 2012 Lagos Soccerex was a great idea because we were able to exchange ideas with who is who, especially in the football world; ideas that would develop our football, ideas that would transform our Premier League, ideas that would help us elect the right board that can carry our football and take us to the Promised Land.
So, I’m very happy to be part of the event and I believe that the future of Nigerian football and indeed, African football, is bright. Likely benefits from Lagos Soccerex Events like that could bring sponsors, branding and put in place the necessary structures that would make Nigerian football attract investments from the western world. So, it’s a good thing. I’ve been out there and have seen how people contribute ideas and visions to the football world. So, I’m happy to be part of it. Exodus of players from Nigerian League to Europe I don’t think the difference between foreign and home-based players still exist especially with the kind of philosophy Stephen Keshi has introduced into the national team at the moment.
We can all see that we have good legs in the domestic league because the players are proving their mettle. If only we can develop the domestic league, Nigerian football would become a market that Africa and the entire world would look up to. Problem with Nigerian football I think that we have problem in the area of policy making and it has to do with complex on the part of those running our football. But gradually, seeing somebody like David Dein, Sunday Oliseh and other resource persons that delivered papers at the Lagos Soccerex on what can take us from nothing to something, I believe that the sky cannot limit us in the future.
Kudos to Keshi on new-look Super Eagles Keshi has bridged the gap between home and foreign-based players. In the last two years, it was difficult for any home-based player to break into the Super Eagles’ squad. But today, no matter where you play, whether you play for Jigawa Stars or Kano Pillars, as long as you are playing well, you would be invited to the national team and if you prove yourself, you pick a shirt in the team. That is something of which we should give credit to Keshi. He is a leader who can carry a team to the next level. If the players can work harder with dedication and the kind of commitment Nigerians want to see in them, I believe we will get there. Blending home and foreign-based players You need to blend the home and foreign-based players. Even in our time, that was the case.
It’s good to play in the foreign league to have the exposure and all of that, but when you have a player in the domestic league that can do better than a foreign-based player in a particular position, you must give such a home-based player a chance. In fact, home-based players that make the Super Eagles’ main team should be given more incentives in addition to all the other entitlements due to the team. That is the way I see it. Keshi is doing a good job. We should all pray for him, and I believe that it’s just a matter of time and we’ll get there. Rome was not built in a day.
It has to be a gradual process for him to build the Super Eagles of our dream. Coaching Eagles, most difficult job I think coaching the Nigeria national team is the most difficult job any coach can handle. Everybody is entitled to his own opinion. But for me, Keshi has so far done well. And if we can give him the support, with time, his team will make Nigerians proud again. I don’t have discipline for coaching job Every ex-international cannot go into coaching. I love coaching job, but I don’t have the discipline for the job.
I believe that I can fit better into the administrative aspect of football where I can bring my wealth of knowledge in the game to bear in the development of Nigerian football. I’m ready to contribute my quota in that aspect. How ex-internationals can develop younger players Nigeria should learn to celebrate her ex-internationals by inviting them to the round table to meet minds and see where we can come in and develop our football. By the time we bring our experiences and knowledge together, I believe that at the end of the day, positive results would come out of it.
Why Nigerian players don’t retire in domestic league The Nigerian system does not allow players to return to the domestic league when they finish their career abroad. In Brazil, for instance, those that run football have quality leadership ideas. They know how to celebrate their football heroes. They make sure that the knowledge they acquire while playing abroad does not waste. They encourage the players to bring such ideas home so that the up and coming players can benefit from them and subsequently transfer the ideas to the next generation.
So, it is all about ideas and vision. I think we should learn from countries like Brazil. May be we can start with players like Joseph Yobo that are approaching the twilight of their football career. Our football administrator should lay down structures that would encouraged such players to return home and play for one or two seasons before their final retirement, so as to help in developing our league. A player that has put in about 86-90 international caps deserves to be celebrated and encouraged to return home to contribute to the nation building through football.
We need to ensure that all the experience of such players is transferred to the younger generation. We really need to look into that matter and see how we can build the structure. That is what was missing in our time, but we still have the opportunity to correct it now. If we were able to do that, it would help in building a strong domestic league and national team in the future.