God’s defender

Taribo West SCROLL TO READ STORIA N.84 / 110

West was also linked to the first great triumph of Massimo Moratti’s time as President. He was part of the team led by Gigi Simoni that went to Paris in 1998 for the UEFA Cup final against Lazio. Just under two years later, his adventure with Inter ended and he moved to the Rossoneri side of the city. 18 years have gone by but it’s almost impossible for Nerazzurri fans to forget Taribo West and his hair.

West was eccentric on and off the pitch. The opponent’s unfortunate legs would know about it as either the ball or the opponent would get past, but never both. Lucescu and Lippi knew about it as they had to deal with his fearless competitiveness that was essential for a defender but he also knew how to attack with a touch of genius. His eccentricities weren’t just seen on the pitch. For example, the whole team was sat at the table one day. Taribo was the only one missing. Lippi was a bit annoyed and went to call for him. Soon after, he turned up saying “Boss, I was praying. God told me that I have to play today.” Lippi responded: “Strange, God didn’t tell me anything. Come and eat, it’s better. Pray later”.

His extravagant character matched his colourful dreadlocks, he was often a fiery character and all of these factors came together to make him an idol of the fans right from the start. Taribo West first came through the gates at La Pinetina in 1997 with an Olympic Gold Medal that his country won at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The young Nigerian defender was rough around the edges when he arrived from Auxerre, but he was capable of putting the work in to improve himself. He developed a lot technically and in a rapid period of time. In terms of his personality, the story was more complex.

Taribo West

Taribo West (Port Harcourt, 26 March 1974) arrived at Inter from Auxerre in 1997 for 6 Billion Lire. With the Nerazzurri, he made 44 appearances, scoring one goal and he won the 1998 UEFA Cup after the final against Lazio in Paris. In January 2000, he moved to Milan. He won Olympic Gold with Nigeria at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. He earned 41 caps for Nigeria.