Daily Champion (Lagos)

8 July 2010

Nigeria: Babayaro Quits Professional Football

Lagos — Former Super Eagles left-back, Celestine Ugochukwu Babayaro has officially announced his retirement from football the game that gave him fame and fortune.

Briefing the media yesterday in Abuja, Babayaro said the decision to quit was entirely his own following his discovery that his body was no longer strong enough to withstand the rigours of competitive football at the highest level.

He thanked the entire people of Nigeria for giving him the opportunity of representing the country in various categories of the national teams which kick started his illustrious football career which he said spanned almost two decade.

"In the euphoria of all this great moment in my professional career, I never for once lost touch with my country and so when it was time to take a bow from the beautiful game, it is only natural I do so on the soil that started it all and that is my beautiful country, Nigeria".

According to Babayaro, his last days at English side, Newcastle United was not too impressive due to a nagging injury that made it difficult for him to be at his optimum.

The former Chelsea of England defender also revealed that to mark his formal exit form football, there will be a testimonial match between him and his friends against Heartland FC of Owerri in his home state, Imo.

He said such great footballers like former Super Eagles midfielfder, Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Mutiu Adepoju, Daniel Amokachi, Marcel Dessiale and most of his team mates in Chelsea will be in Owerri for the testimonial slated top take place on the July 24.

"As a professional footballer, you always have it at the back of your mind that someday you will stop playing, and I have always prayed that when hat time comes, hat I will still be young, healthy and successful. Almighty God in his infinite mercy gave me more, He gave me wisdom and fulfillment and for this reasons I gladly thank you father".

The Atlanta Olympic soccer winning player also revealed that he will now focus most of his time in the development of his foundation saying it is his own little to give back something to the country that so benefited him.

On what he will do after professional football, Babayaro said he will never go into coaching but will be available to offer assistance and advice in other areas if contacted.

On why he decided to take his testimonial to Owerri instead of Kaduna where he grew up, Babayaro said he has Kaduna and its good people in mind at all times but no matter what happens, one must go back to his roots.

"I'm not running away from Kaduna people, because they are always in mine mind, but I'm proud to let everybody know that I'm from Imo state and I'm happy about that because no matter what, home is home".

On the way forward for Nigerian football, the former U-17 winner said time has come for the country to have a second look at her football adding that we must start from the grassroots to develop the game if the desire to win laurels at international championships will be a reality.

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