FOUR more top players from Europe including William Gallas, Louis Saha, Tim Howard and Steven Pienaar have been booked on the flight to Port Harcourt for the Joseph Yobo Centenary Game, the befitting testimonial match planed to mark the retirement of the former Super Eagles captain from football on May 27.
Yobo’s associate and former Super Eagles player, Waidi Akanni, confirmed yesterday that plans for a befitting testimonial was on course with the quality of players who have confirmed their presence in Port Harcourt.
“It is becoming very exciting the number of top players who have confirmed their readiness to be in Nigeria for the Yobo testimonial. I can assure you that before that date in May, more top players are going to be unveiled,” stressed Akanni.
Gallas is a former Chelsea and France defender, who helped the Blues win back-to-back the English Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho in 2005 and 2006. He is also a former Arsenal, Tottenham and Perth Glory (Australia) player who called time on a glittering career after 84 caps for France. He retired from the game two years ago.
Saha, Yobo’s former teammate at Everton is also a French former professional footballer. Saha was capped 20 times for the French national team. He moved over to Goodison Park after four and half years at Old Trafford.
Also, Everton and United States of America goalkeeper, Tim Howard is also listed for the Garden City football fiesta.
Howard is an iconic figure in U.S. soccer, especially after his epic performance in the 2014 World Cup, when he delivered a 15-save effort in the round-of-16 defeat against Belgium.
He has also been a mainstay for the Toffees, logging more than 400 appearances in all competitions.
The 36-year-old signed a four-year contract in 2014 with the intention of staying at Everton until the 2018 World Cup but has endured some shaky performances this season and recently lost his spot in the starting lineup to Joel Robles.
The fourth player to also confirm his presence in Nigeria to honour Yobo is another Everton and South African star, Steven Pienaar. He was captain of the Bafana Bafana, until October 2012.
Earlier, Yobo’s former Everton teammate Wayne Rooney and African greats Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure, plus a host of other international football personalities have all shown interests in honouring the Ogoni-born star who amassed 100 international caps, scoring seven goals in a career that spanned 13 years.
He featured at three FIFA World Cups and six AFCON tournaments, leading Nigeria to victory in his last outing in South Africa.
Some of the corporate bodies who have indicated their support for the Joseph Yobo Centenary Game include, Sifax Group, NICON Insurance and Beko Electronics Ltd.
The testimonial game which is being put together by the Joseph Yobo Foundation in partnership with the Rivers State Government will be an occasion to celebrate a worthy son of the state who had a distinguished career.