The former Super Eagles defender Taribo West dropped a bombshell in a recent chat with The Punch.
West, who no longer wears his trademark hairstyle, narrated his ordeal of how he was involved in occultism during his playing days before his encounter with a female pastor, Patience Ikemefuna.
According to him, his encounter with Ikemefuna, an evangelist who lives in America, marked the beginning of a new phase in his life.
West, who is now a pastor and founder of Shelter in The Storm Miracle Ministries of All Nations, revealed he was deeply involved in occultism.
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He admitted in contacting herbalists and native men to help him play better than his colleagues and even win matches for the country and his various clubs.
He said: “Of course yes (I was involved). I don’t know why people decline to talk about their involvement with charms.
“Football has to do with a lot of powers. When there are big events, you look at the stadium, you see people, fans invoking all kinds of things; magicians are there, voodooists are there.
‘In my playing days, when I was ignorant, I used to get some mallams and babalawos (traditional doctors) to make charms for us, which we took to (national) camp. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
“In some clubs, before every game, the president or leader of the club will give you a lucky charm to play with. They will tell you to put it in your boots or socks and play. It’s their superstitious belief; that it can help them win matches.
“There are some coaches who are connected to African magicians and soothsayers from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Zaire or even Nigeria. These people are consulted to give these coaches results of games even before the matches are played.
“These people see strange things and they can tell you with their magic and charms, what the outcome of a match will be. People believe and use it. It works for those who believe in it. I saw it, I experienced it, I was with players that used it and I used it. So, why are people denying it? There are charms and rituals in football. It still exists."
Taribo West however narrated his encounter with God and how he put a stop to occultism after meeting a female pastor, Patience Ikemefuna.
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He said: “God used her to change my life and ever since, my life has never been the same. I’m grateful to her.
“When I had an encounter with God and I became born again, I discovered that these powers were powerless. It was an avenue to collect money from us. There are lots of voodoo practices in football. If you are not with God, you have to be with the devil; with the devil they come with everything.”
West also expressed his feelings about the current crop of players in the Super Eagles.
He said: “We need to pray for the team and I have taken it as an assignment to pray for the team. The national team is part of my body, it’s my family.”
In his 11 years career with the Super Eagles, Taribo West played two World Cups and two Africa Cup of Nations.
Taribo West also played football in Nigeria, France, Italy, England, Germany, Yugoslavia, UAE and Iran.