'I wanted to win trophies' – Yobo reveals why he left Everton for Fenerbahce

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Joseph Yobo Everton
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The Nigerian football great disclosed why he left for Turkey when things were going well for him at Goodsion Park

Joseph Yobo has revealed the quest to win trophies and an opportunity to feature in the Champions League made him leave Everton for Fenerbahce.

Having arrived in Liverpool in 2002 from Olympique Marseille, Yobo swiftly established himself as one of David Moyes’ reliable defenders with his consistent performances for the Toffees.

He was so dependable that he became Everton’s second player to feature in all 38 Premier League games without missing a single minute, during the 2006-07 season.

In the absence of Phil Neville, he was handed the skipper’s armband against Larissa in a Uefa Cup game on October 25, 2007. In the process, he became the first African to captain the team.

But after a decade on Merseyside, he left for Turkey after an initial loan move to Sukru Saracoglu Stadium.

The ex-Nigeria international told Ubi Ofem, special adviser to Cross River state governor on tourism during an Instagram live chat on Saturday, that he took the decision to leave in order to gun for titles and to play in Europe’s elite club tournament.

“After spending about nine years at Everton for some reason, I realised that I needed a change,” said Yobo.

“I wanted to win trophies and I wanted to play in the Champions League. Everton was doing well because we were a top-five and top-six team and were moving up.

“I felt at Everton, I have achieved all I needed to at that moment. As you grow older as a player you have more experience and you’ll start looking for trophies. So, I felt like going to where I can play in the Champions League and win trophies were the next thing for me.

“Luckily, Fenerbahce came in. When I went to Turkey, I didn’t know what was going to happen because I didn’t know their culture. Although I have played against them at Everton and I was so impressed by the way they played.

“When they came back for me, I was like ‘this is it’. At that time, the transfer window in the Premier League was closed and there was nowhere for me to go except out of England.

“I went there on loan, and after a month, believe me, I said I wanted to stay there because everything was different for me and I got motivated even more. I saw that with the team, I could would trophies and play in the Champions League. Within a few weeks, I fell in love with the club and everything changed.”

Yobo PS

With the Yellow Canaries, Yobo not only realised his ambition of featuring in the Champions League, he also won the Turkish league diadem and two Turkish Cups.

While in Turkey, he captained the Super Eagles to win the 2013 African Cup of Nations. However, he returned to England on loan at Norwich City to revive his 2014 World Cup participation hopes which was gradually fading into thin air.

“I was becoming injury prone, I missed out for almost a year and the World Cup was coming. I was playing in the Champions League and Europa Cup for Fenerbahce, but I know what I was going through to play those games. I wasn’t 100% fit,” he continued.

“So, in order for me to make the World Cup team – obviously, I was getting to my peak and younger players were coming on.

“The Turkish league is very good but Nigerians don’t watch it, so I had to make a statement by returning to the Premier League where people can see me play.

Joseph Yobo

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“I think my first game was against Manchester City  - I wondered how I was going to defend against [Edin] Dzeko and other players. Overall, it was a good move for me and in that game, I was named Man of the Match.

“People saw that even with my injury, I can still play, so that meant there was a spot for me to go to the World Cup. I played eight games consecutively before my injury and that happened because I took a risk to play for my manager.

“Norwich were not as big as Everton but I love the structure and the staff were very good to me. They treated me while understanding the problem that I had and what I wanted to achieve. Everyone was great to me and it was a fantastic experience.”

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