Many who saw the Nigerian defender at his peak knew he was a no-nonsense, tough-tackling beast who rarely laughed, but those close to him then have revealed that there was a kinder side to the unsmiling former Sharks centre-back
Former Brazil international José Elias Moedim Júnior has shared a training ground experience between Taribo West and Ronaldo de Lima to highlight his point that the former Super Eagles star had a calm mind and a large heart.
While people may look at Taribo and conclude that he’s probably crazy, numb, and mean-hearted, Ze Elias insists that Brazilian legend Ronaldo would have picked up a lengthy injury had that been true.
The three retired players were Inter Milan stars in the late 90s after Taribo joined from French side, Auxerre. That same summer, El Fenomeno, and Ze Elias also joined from Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.
The trio played crucial roles in their debut campaign to help the Black and Blues cruise to the final of the UEFA Cup and then beat fellow Italians Lazio at Parc des Princes in Paris. It was Inter Milan’s third UEFA Cup triumph in eight years.
Ronaldo, though, was the star of Luigi Simoni’s side, scoring six times in Europe, including the last of the three goals in the final.
But that glorious ending would not have been possible had Taribo reacted with bitterness when Ronaldo appeared to humiliate him during a training session midway through the season.
Ze Elias recalls that instead of anger, the 1996 Olympics gold medalist showed maturity and resisted the temptation to condemn Ronaldo to the treatment table.
“During training, Ronaldo dribbled past Taribo West twice in a row. It was crazy! Our coach, ‘Gigi’ Simoni, had to stop training immediately,” recalled Zé Elias in a chat with ESPN.
“At that moment I feared that Taribo, who was very strong, would get angry and take it out on Ronaldo, who was our star.
“But luckily, Taribo was a very calm guy, and he took it easy, and he just laughed.”
It would be recalled that former Inter Milan owner, Massimo Moratti, recently spoke of how crazy but genuinely large-hearted Taribo was.