Former Inter Milan defender Taribo West on how he helped stranded immigrants in Italy

Taribo West InterGetty Images

Ex-Inter Milan and AC Milan centre-back Taribo West said he used his church in Italy to house stranded immigrants, including Nigerians.

The 46-year-old has become a full-time minister since he retired from football in 2007, and he has founded his own church named the Shelter in the Storm Miracle Ministries of All Nations.

Nigerian women are reportedly exploited for sex trafficking in the European country after getting through the Italian borders illegally.

During his stay in Milan between 1997 and 2001, West revealed how he used resources to improve the lives of immigrants who found no place to stay.

He who won the Uefa Europa League with Inter Milan in his debut campaign in the 1997-98 season.

“I used my church while I was in Milan to help the homeless and Nigerians who were taken to Italy all in the name of prostitution,” Taribo told the Punch.

“God told us to use whatever we generated from our personal income to upgrade the standard and living of the less-privilege, especially those that the society had written off because living in Europe is not easy, it’s like a land of economic refugees.

“We had a lot of immigrants coming in almost every day to the church; most of them didn’t have places to stay, some didn’t have documents to assimilate them into society.”

The former Nigeria international, who was part of the victorious team at the 1996 Olympic Games, admitted it was challenging for him as he sought to make people’s lives better in Italy.

“What we did was after delivering them, we gave them a place to stay and from there we looked for jobs for them and we helped them procure documents as well,” he continued. “It was very tough for me, because I spent a lot of money. But it was historical in the Italian nation.

“It’s not like Africa, especially Nigeria, where laws don’t work. There [Italy], you have to go through a legal process, which will justify if everything is correct, then I paid taxes, so I could get everything; my personality also helped. So, we did so much to give a lot of people life.

“But the system here [Nigeria] doesn’t work that way. Over there, you can work with the system and get a loan. So, they got loans, some bought cars and houses and they became free. I still keep in touch with a lot of these people that were saved and redeemed.”