West plays down age concern

The former Inter defender says it is wrong for an ex-president of Serbian club Partizan Belgrade to suggest that he is really 12 years older than stated in his official record

Former Nigeria defender Taribo West has revealed his astonishment at claims he falsified his age during his playing days.

The centre-back, renowned for his no-nonsense defending as much as his colourful hairstyle, is said to have been aged 12 years older than he actually was by Zarko Zecevic, a former club president of Partizan Belgrade.

However, the former Partizan and Inter centre-back is amazed at the allegations and insists the club should have raised it with him when he was part of their squad.

“I don’t really know what they are talking about and that’s why I don’t really have anything much to say," West, 39, told The Punch.

"But it is curious that they are raising such matters about 10 years after I left the place. Why was the matter not raised while I was there? Why talk about it long after I retired from the game."

Speaking about Zecevic's comments he told Tribunesport in Nigeria: “He is not my father, brother or relative. The reporters should have asked him where he got that fact.

"I have my record in the professional League with Obanta United since the 1990’s and all along, I have been keeping with my true age."

Zecevic made the claim in a report published by the Serbian media.

“[West] joined us saying he was 28. We only later found out he was 40, but he was still playing well so I don’t regret having him on the team," the former club president told Vecernje Novosti.

Reports from the source also claim that when West attempted to sign for Croatian outfit HNK Rijeka, he told club doctors he was 32 but scans of the player's knees suggested him to be considerably older.

Nigerian players especially those that came through the youth ranks have variously been accused of age cheating. The country was banned in the wake of age falsification ordeal in 1991.