By Tony Ubani
Manchester United captain, Wayne Rooney would lead a galaxy of European and African players to the Joseph Yobo Centenary and testimonial game to be played on May 27, 2016 at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Yobo, former captain of the Super Eagles who remains Nigeria’s highest capped player with 100 appearances, three World Cup appearances and six African Cup of Nations appearances said that requests by players all over the world to be part of the testimonial was frightening.
‘’I keep asking if we can contain the number of players who want to come here,’’ he said Tuesday at the Eko Hotels where he set another record, drawing 16 ex-internationals, four former coaches of the Eagles and six former captains of the Super Eagles to attend his testimonial Press Conference.
Though Yobo would not speculate on names, he assured that the scramble to part of his testimonial was huge but noted that his former coach at Everton, David Moyes would come with a team.
‘’Moyes coming with a team to me is huge. Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Samuel Eto Fils are all confirmed for the match in Port Harcourt.’’
It was a day of accolades for Yobo by his ex-international colleagues and coaches.
John Mastoroudes, former General manager of defunct Leventis United sparked off the praises. ‘’He was a great worker and captain for Nigeria. We must honour him for his works for the country.’’
Austin Jay Jay Okocha: It’s a special day for all of us. It’s good to celebrate people because we only celebrate people when they are dead. Yobo didnt know what he achieved in the Eagles. He met us in the team but ended up with more games than we did. His commitment to the game cannot be compared to what we see in the new Eagles team. We played our hearts out. You can fault us in other things but not commitment. Taribo West was Yobo’s mentor in the defence. You are welcome to the other side of the game – retirement. You’ll enjoy it if you made good investments, if not, you’ll find it rough.’’
Kanu Nwankwo: It was Kanu that passed on the captaincy of the Eagles to Yobo. ‘’Yobo is known for hardwork and sacrifices. Looking at this hall, this is the first time to see such a huge crowd of who is who in Nigerian football. It shows we recognise what he did for Nigeria and the Eagles.’’
Henry Nwosu: When I met Yobo for the first time in 2002, he was like a lamb but he was dumb. He hardly speaks. One day, I asked him if he was dumb. Today, he has surpassed us with the number of caps. The young players should emulate his hardwork and discipline’’.
Christian Chukwu: My captain Yobo. That’s what I called him. When he became captain, I went to sleep as a coach. There was no rancour. He’s disciplined and born to lead. Even when allowances were not paid, he marched on, commanding his colleagues well.’’
Amodu Shuaibu: Quintessential Yoboristic! He has class. He does it with panache. He lives a beautiful life. He scored goals as a defender. He’s a dogged fighter.
Augustine Eguavoen: Yobo played his first cap in Kitwe, Zambia. He’s known for his hardwork, dedication and discipline. May the labours of our heroes past not be in vain.
Taribo West: You are going to excel in all endeavour. The best of your life is yet to come. Discipline, hardwork are part of Yobo. I want him to still remain in sports to impart his experience to teeming youths who look up to him.
Peter Rufai, Victor Ikpeba all spoke in the same vein. Aisha Falode summed it up; ‘’it great to have a glittering career but even greater when you end it on a high.’’
Some of the dignitaries that attended the conference include; Christian Chukwu, Amodu Shuaibu, Nwankwo Kanu, Ifeanyi Udeze, Fanny Amun, John Mastoroudes, Peter Rufai, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Henry Nwosu, Austin Eguavoen, Waidi Akanni, Boma Iyayi, Victor Ikpeba, Taribo West, Tajudeen Disu and Austin Popo.