Where Are They Now? The new life of Pastor Taribo West
Derby County visit Yorkshire on Friday night to take on Hull City as they bid to maintain their push for a return to the top-flight.
During seven previous years in the Premier League the Rams will have seen plenty of influential and cult players passing through their ranks, but few will come close to the man, the hair, the legend that is Taribo West.
We’ve undertaken a bit of digging to see what the Nigerian full-back is up to these days in our latest edition of Where Are They Now?
West may have only made 18 league appearances in his year-long spell at Pride Park, but the fans certainly took to him.
But after doing his bit to keep Jim Smith’s side in the division, he moved on to pastures new, more specifically Germany for a season with Kaiserslautern.
Short spells in Serbia, Qatar, Plymouth, Nigeria and Iran saw the defender’s career peter out before retiring in 2008, but that wasn’t the last we’d hear of the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winner.
In 2013, Zarko Zevevic, the man who was president of Partizan Belgrade, when West joined the club, claimed that he had in fact lied about his age.
According to Zevevic, West was 12 years older than he claimed, making him 40-years-old when the club signed him, rather than the 28-years-old he claimed he was.
In an interview, the former Ram denied these allegations:
“I know exactly how old I was and whether I’m an old or young man. I think that some people are just too jealous,” he said.
Away from football, West has turned to the Church, and is now a practicing pastor back home in Nigeria.
He opened his very own church in 2014, the Shelter in the Storm Miracle Church of All Nations, in the country’s capital.
The former Inter star has said that he uses his career as a footballer in to inspire others from the difficult upbringing in the slums of Lagos to make something of themselves.
“I try to help people who do not have as lucky a life as me. I tell them stories and what they can do together to achieve success in life, despite the fact that today they live in slums,” he’s quoted as saying.
As well as spreading his message under the roof of his church, West has often been spotted taking to the streets of the Alaba International Market in the city, giving his talks to the packed crowds.
But West himself admits, he’s not always been as squeaky clean as he is now, in spiritual terms at least.
Just two months ago he admitted that during his playing days he often embraced the dark arts of ‘juju’.
“I used to get some mallams and bablawos (traditional doctors) to make charms for us, which we took to (international) camp,” he explained.
“In some clubs, before every game, the president or leader of the club would give you a lucky charm to play with. It’s their superstitious belief that it can help them win matches.
“People believe it and use it. It works for those who believe in it. I saw it, I experienced it, I was with players that used it and I used it,” he continued.
Earlier this year he claimed that similar superstitions could be to blame for Nigeria’s failings on the pitch, as under Stephen Keshi they failed to qualify for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Rather than the then-current administration, he claimed that past mistakes were to blame.
“Administrators in the past committed a lot of atrocities against Eagles players and in anger these players cursed the team,” he told the Punch.
Whatever sort of curse was placed on the team has obviously since been lifted though, with Nigeria winning three of their last five, without conceding a single goal under Sunday Oliseh.
These days though, it’s all about the bright side for West, as he looks to spread the word of his religion throughout his home city.
Asked whether he has a motto in his life, he simply replied;
“Treat people in your life as you would like to be treated by them. If not, treat them like Taribo West.”
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