Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nigeria: Newcastle Pays Off Babayaro

Olawale Ajimotokan

One time Nigerian international Celestine Babayaro is on his way out of Newcastle after both the club and player reportedly reached an agreement to sever company.

Newcastle Evening Chronicle of yesterday reported that the 29 year-old wing back will now be paid off ahead of his contract due to run out at the end of next season.

By the spirit of the deal, departure of the injury prone former Super Eagles defender from St James's Park will now be take effect in the winter transfer window that begins this month.

Babayaro's Magpies spell has been blighted by injuries which has limited his appearances for the club.

He has not been part of the team this season having last played for the club in March against Liverpool in a home league fixture which the Magpies won 2-1.

Babayaro, who was capped 26 times by Nigeria joined Newcastle in January 2005 from Chelsea where he played nearly 150 games for £1m.

He had a rosy spell at Stamford Bridge where he was the backbone of the defence from 1997 with the flamboyant Dutchman Ruud Gullit in charge of the team.

He was an instrumental member of the Nigerian national team that won the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. He also posted a five-star display for the Eagles at the 1998 World Cup.

His first call in Europe was Anderlecht of Belgium from where he secured a £2.25m move to Chelsea.

Babayaro only started 66 games for Newcastle and his only goal came in an FA Cup tie with Coventry City at St James's Park in his first season.

His injury record never really endeared him to the Toom Army who wanted Sam Allardyce to offload him when the latter left Bolton at the beginning of the season to replace Glenn Roeder as the team manager.

On the international front, Babayaro touted as the future leader of the Nigerian team also made the headlines for the wrong reasons which thus limited his appearances to 26 matches relative to his age.

He first had a burst out with Nigerian officials over flight ticket refund at Sydney 2000. His career ended after he and two other players were expelled at the Nations Cup in Tunisia 2004 for a breach of a camp curfew.

This article was taken from This Day newspaper, and posted online at allAfrica.com

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