Prem cult hero who became pastor ‘wore leather shoes with his club tracksuit’

An ex-Premier League footballer who competed for Nigeria at the World Cup used to have an unusual dress sense and often went missing to work on his job as a preacher, a former teammate has claimed.

Taribo West won over 40 caps for Nigeria and competed at the highest level at the 1998 and 2002 world cups, as well as playing for Italian giants Inter and AC Milan.

Towards the end of his time in Italy, the rock-solid defender made a surprise loan move to Derby County, who were competing at the lower end of the Premier League at the time.

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While at the East Midlands club, he played alongside forward Malcom Christie, who paved his own unusual route to the top after starting out stacking shelves and playing non-league football.

Speaking on the Under The Cosh podcast, Christie shared his story, and revealed his teammates’ shock at the Nigerian’s unusual side-hustle as a preacher in Italy, and questioned West’s fashion sense.

“He [West] ended up in our dressing room, I don’t know how,” he laughed. “What is it, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Derby County?

“Totally, totally random. I remember him turning up with a load of guys. He would turn up with his Tesco carrier bag; he used to turn up with his belongings in his carrier bag.

“One of the most famous, recognisable figures in football, he would turn up with a plastic bag with his stuff in.

“I’ve criticised my own dress sense, but he would turn up in a tracksuit with shoes, like patent leather shoes on, and do you know what? He didn’t give a f***.”

And, Christie remembered how the defender’s unusual life off the field would sometimes influence his appearances – or lack thereof – on the pitch.

“What would happen is, Taribo very rarely trained, so he would play the match, and he was a pastor back in Italy, so he would play the match and go home on a Sunday,” he recalled.

“Would we see him Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday? Don’t know. He might turn up on Friday, [but in this case] we haven’t seen him.

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Christie remembered one specific incident, when Derby had been taking on Fulham in a cup fixture, and West was nowhere to be seen.

“He turned up with a minute to go before team submission, no one had seen him for a few days prior… and what did he turn up in? He turned up with his Derby County tracksuit on again and f***ing shoes,” he said.

Then, having rocked up late, Christie described how West surprisingly gathered his teammates for a huddle before preaching to them in a foreign language.

“Taribo is in the middle preaching to us in a language that I don’t know what it is. It’s almost like a witch doctor approach. We went out and obviously he was wanting us to win the game… we f***ing lost 3-2,” he laughed.


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