In our first Champ Man legends piece we looked at Mike Duff. Now every fan of Championship Manager 01/02 knows that no back three was complete without Mike Duff on the right and Taribo West on the left (oddly he was down as a Defender Left/Centre but preferred his right foot). No matter who you put in the middle of them nobody could match their average ratings.
West’s stats consistently saw him clock up 20s in key areas: Strength, Determination, Bravery, Work Rate, Stamina and occasionally (if you were unlucky) Aggression. He even chipped in with the odd goal – much more so than in real life where he only mustered a career total of 6 from 224 appearances.
Whilst Mike Duff came for a small fee. Taribo was on a free transfer at the start of the game and it didn’t matter if you were Barcelona or Bradford you were straight in for his signature at the start of the game. Although it has to be said that unlike Duff he had slightly larger ambitions and higher wage demands accordingly. As Kanye West, (West’s nephew on his mother’s side) said, “I don’t know what’s better, getting laid or getting paid”. Clearly getting paid for Taribo, although he did use his earnings to fund his work with homeless people. Not sure Kanye can lay claims of being so charitable.
His best years in club football seemingly behind him, after winning the Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France with Auxerre, and then the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan, his move across Milan to AC led to little playing time and his eventual loan move to the East Midlands.
It was there in the 00/01 season that West was partly credited for the Ram’s Premier League survival. Interestingly, Jim Smith gave him Sundays off so he could go back to Milan where he was a pastor in a church for the homeless (http://goo.gl/4ikqKY). Derby eventually finished 17th, one place above Man City and West’s presence (and haircut) cemented his place in the club’s history.
Despite reaching the dizzy heights of 17th in the Premier League, perhaps his greatest football achievement was winning Olympic Gold at Atlanta in 1996 in a squad full of premier League stars: Okocha, Amokachi, Babayaro, Kanu.
West made several moves towards the end of his career including one which brought his age into question by the then Partizan Belgrade chairman Zarko Zecevic, who said he was 12 years older than the 28 years he was claiming to be. Their loss was Plymouth’s gain as he went on to make 4 appearances in the 06/07 season for the Pilgrims. Plymouth’s local paper The Herald even reported the age story (http://goo.gl/zdPhc4), he probably hopes he’s remembered as more than an ex-Plymouth player, but it’s great to see his 4 appearances obviously meant a lot to them. I assume they have a statue of him outside Home Park (probably alongside the one of Emile Mpezna – a possible future recipient of a Champ Man Legend profile).
All this gradual decline and age questioning meant nothing in the world of CM though. West was a must have for any team. He wouldn’t join a club as low down the pyramid as Mike Duff would, and as we’ve already established, his wages demands were much higher, but if you started as a club with the ability to meet his demands he wouldn’t disappoint. Even if I couldn’t sign him for free initially, I’d add him to my shortlist and attempt to sign him for an excessive fee whenever I could, in spite of his age…
I think in all of the Championship Manager series you’d be hard pushed to find a greater free transfer signing than Mr West, although Taribo’s second cousin Kanye did once say “I still think I’m the greatest”, but I guess there’s just no pleasing some people.