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Taribo West: Arsenal legend Henry picks Nigerian as toughest opponent of his career

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Taribo West: Arsenal legend Henry picks Nigerian as toughest opponent of his career

The former France international admitted he endured a torrid time against the ex-Super Eagles defender during his active days

Former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Thierry Henry has picked Nigeria’s Taribo West as the toughest opponent of his career.

The World Cup winner is the Gunners’ all-time goal scorer and was renowned for wreaking havoc on defences for club and country during his professional career which spanned over two decades.

Henry has pitted his wits against some of the world’s best center-halves and full-backs during his active career, but he claims that the former Super Eagles star gave him his most difficult examination.

Pressed to name the hardest opponent he has faced, the current Belgium national team assistant coach said on CBSS Sports Golazo:

“Toughest as indirect opponent? Or just a guy you don’t like to play against? Paul Scholes.

“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.”

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 drawing the curtain on his career in 2007, the Nigerian also represented AC Milan, Derby County, Kaiserslautern, Partizan, Al-Arabi, Plymouth Argyle and Iranian side Paykan.

Author: Andrew Collins

andrewc@gmail.com

London, UK