The defender and the Brazilian phenomenon shared the same dressing room at Inter Milan, but the attacker revealed that both of them had met many years earlier.
Taribo West excelled as a defender against some of football’s greats, including Brazil’s Ronaldo de Lima, in a football career that spanned almost 15 years. While the two former stars became teammates and friends at Inter Milan, the 2002 World Cup winner has shared his first-ever encounter facing West on a football pitch.
West was only 19 years old when he moved to Europe to join French side Auxerre in 1993. He had been a revelation in the domestic scene for the four previous years, starring for Sharks of Port Harcourt, Enugu Rangers, and Julius Berger.
The young defender had also become the defensive pillar of the Nigeria U20 team.
Another four successful years in France brought the Ligue 1 title and two Cup trophies before West completed a summer switch to Serie A giants, Internazionale.
It was at Inter Milan that he became teammates with Ronaldo.
But the two players’ paths had earlier crossed in 1996 when West stood firm in defence as Nigeria’s Dream Team brushed aside a Ronaldo-inspired Brazil on the way to claiming the Atlanta Olympic Games gold medal.
But Ronaldo, 43, insists they had both met before that time at an international youth tourney when West featured for Nigeria’s U20 team against an Under-17 Brazilian team that Ronaldo in its lineup.
Recalling in an Instagram chat with Italian striker Christian Vieri monitored by ilbianconero, Ronaldo hints that he endured a difficult time battling his future teammate.
“I was in the under 16, and we were in retreat with the Brazilian national team for two weeks.
“At the time I was 15, and we made a friendly match with Nigeria Under-20 team where Taribo played.
“They were very fast; they were adults, we were only 15 years old. On that occasion, I exchanged shoes with Taribo, but we didn’t know each other yet.
“After so many years, we met at Inter.”