By John Essien
Former Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry has named Nigeria’s Taribo West as the toughest opponent of his career.
Henry, during his active career which spanned over two decades, had the knack for wreaking havoc on defences for both club and country.
The World Cup winner had proved his mettle against some of the world’s best centre-halves and full-backs, but claims the former Super Eagles star had given him sleepless nights.
“Toughest as indirect opponent? Or just a guy you don’t like to play against? Paul Scholes, the Gunners’ all-time scorer told CBSS Sports Golazo.
“For direct opponent, I would go back in the days – Taribo West.
“Because [at Auxerre], they did man-marking. He followed you everywhere, even in the dressing room.”
Recall that during his spell at AS Monaco, the Frenchman came up against West who was representing AJ Auxerre.
Following Henry’s move to Juventus, he came up against the defensive lynchpin again, who was plying his trade at Inter Milan, having joined the Italians on a four-year contract in June 1997.
Although West won two Coupe de France titles and one Ligue 1 diadem with Auxerre, the Olympic gold medallist had disclosed that his deal with the Diplomats was signed “without knowing the content and conditions binding the contract”.
“I played in Auxerre for free,” West said at Footballers Connect, a conference aimed at educating aspiring footballers.
“I was playing under a contract for five years without knowing the content and conditions binding the contract.
“After the third year, Arsenal, Juventus, Glasgow Rangers and Sevilla Betis came for me.
“I went to the coach starting that I wanted to leave but he sat me down and showed me my contract terms with Auxerre. I saw the details of what I had signed. Where my fellow defenders were earning as high as 120,000 French francs, I was going home with 3000 French francs.
“I wanted to set Auxerre on fire that day. Immediately, I called my manager who was turning me left and right [while] enjoying himself in Senegal.”
Before calling a quit on his career in 2007, the Nigerian also represented AC Milan, Derby County, Kaiserslautern, Partizan, Al-Arabi, Plymouth Argyle and Iranian side Paykan.