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Yobo: Celebrating a worthy soccer legend!

The path Joseph Yobo chose to greatness is the path every other footballer would like to take, but he did his in style. Among great footballers or legends, only few of them are able to make or surpass the 100 caps for their country and to achieve this feat, such an ambitious footballer has to be at his best and consistency is key!
Yobo, since he made his debut against Zambia in a qualifying cracker in 2001 ahead of the 2002 Africa Cup of  Nations, he has ever been present in the Super Eagles setup until he announced his retirement after the loss to France in Brazil at the second round stage of the 2014 FIFA World competition. He featured on 101 occasions for the Super Eagles, playing in three World Cups, six Nations Cup and scored seven times for the Super Eagles.
As a kicker, one of the challenges a footballer encounters is consistent change of team handlers. This is always a challenge because different coaches come with their own different approach to games and tactics which may also affect the squad list.
During the time of Yobo in the Super Eagles, Nigeria has changed team handlers ten times with the likes of Shuaibu Amodu and Stephen Keshi making a return after being initially sacked, but all the coaches seem not to be able to drop the energetic Yobo because of the quality he possesses.
One of the coaches that tutored Yobo in the Eagles setup Fanny Amun did make a comment about him when he said he had discovered Yobo’s leadership quality and tipped him to captain the country which eventually happened after a long while.
Amun said he told Yobo in 2002 before the World Cup that he sees him captaining the Super Eagles in the nearest future because he has leadership quality in him in abundance.
Yobo over the years has proven to be a great leader and can play anywhere across the defense line.
It will surprise many that he actually started his football career as an attacker when he featured for Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championship tagged , Nigeria ‘99 where he played alongside Julius Aghahowa and Pius Ikedia. It was the leadership quality he possessed that made him become the first and only African to captain his former club Everton in a Uefa Cup game against Greek side Larissa FC.
Another coach that managed him at the national team level Shuaibu Amodu narrated stories about Yobo’s commitment and dedication to the national team.
He described an incident where Yobo due to club involvement could not travel with the team and came on his own for just a game without even asking for a ticket refund. This shows the level of commitment and dedication Yobo has towards the national team which other players should learn to emulate.
Ex-international and his mentor Pastor Taribo West also mentioned how humble and loyal he was during his playing days.
It could be recalled that both players featured for the Super Eagles at the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup.
As earlier mentioned, it is rare for a footballer to make the 100-cap mark for the country he represents. It takes only a rare gem to make this mark; some great players were not able to attain this mark because of inconsistency as they grow older. Some soccer greats like Abedi Pele, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, George Best to mention but a few were unable to reach that feat even for the fact that they were great players during their days.
A pip into Yobo’s career showed that he started his playing career in his home town club in Port Harcourt, Michellin, before he was spotted by a Belgian scout who took him to Belgium to play for Standard Liege in 1998 at a young age of 17.
In Belgium, he was made to wait for his professional debut until year 2000 when he got his first European football debut.
He afterwards made 30 appearances and scored 2 goals. Yobo was afterward shipped to Olympique Marseille in France where he managed 23 appearances and was later loaned out to Tenerife in Spain and also Everton of England for £4m in 2003/04 season after an initial loan spell at the club.
Yobo enjoyed most of his European exploit there and was among the seven players that appeared in every minute in that particular season (2006/07). He racked up 259 appearances and scored 10 goals which is not bad for a defender.
Yobo’s effort did not go unnoticed as Fenerbahce snapped him on initially on loan before signing him on a permanent 3-year deal. He got his club success over there when he won the League title and also the Turkish Super Ligue with them.
Before the end of his contact he was released after agreeing a mutual consent on his contract. He left the Turkish giants in the 2013/14 season when he signed for another English club Norwich City on a free transfer on a one year contract with an option of another year which never materialized because age has caught up with him. Therefore, it was at this point that Yobo bid his farewell to the game he loved so much.
Frankly, Yobo deserves all the praises showered on him prior to his testimonial game at the weekend in Port Harcourt because he has proven to be a true and worthy servant to the country and a consummate professional who represented his club with dignity.
He also brought out the generous part of him when he founded the Joseph Yobo Foundation which is a Non-Government Organisation established to help the needy and also opened a football camp as well.
Yobo indeed has left his legacy on the sands of time and proved to be a worthy ambassador of Nigerian football.
He is worth celebrating!

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