Robbie Keane, not Henry my toughest opponent – Joseph Yobo
Nigeria legend, Joseph Yobo said his toughest opponent during his playing days was Irish striker Robbie Keane.
The defender, who played in the Premier League with Everton and Norwich City on a Radio programme, Sports Zone on Lagos Talks 91.3fm said in a lengthy interview that his toughest opponent was Robbie Keane.
The defender feted at some point as one of the fastest defenders in the Premier League after careful consideration said he found it difficult whenever his team lined-up against Keane’s side. He noted that the spatial awareness and excellent movement of the wily striker always caused problems.
“The few times I played against him, I was not very fit, I wasn’t so ready. He is very clever. He is not one of those that you can just pick and mark [man-mark],” Yobo said.
“He knew where the spots were, where to get the ball, what to do. He was one of the most intelligent players I played against.”
“With Henry and other players, you know they are quick, you know they will try to dribble but with Robbie Keane, it was so difficult to say what he had in mind. I spoke to my colleagues also and they said he is difficult,” the defender continued.
Yobo got the first of his torturous times against Keane in January 2003. Keane had moved to Tottenham Hotspur from Leeds during the summer transfer window; the Irish striker scored a hat-trick with Yobo beaten expertly for two of the goals. When they met again in 2004, Yobo came out with Everton beating Spurs and the defender scoring a goal. The pair faced-off in the Merseyside derby after Keane moved to Liverpool from Spurs in 2008. The only duel between the pair ended with Keane’s Liverpool defeating Everton 2-0 with Keane the provider for both goals.
In 2009, Yobo stymied Keane, ensuring the game between Everton and Spurs ended goalless. Yobo made 220 appearances for Everton before he moved to the Turkish League with Fenerbahce. The former Super Eagles captain eventually made his way back to the English shores with Norwich City but the menacing Keane was already across the Atlantic with LA Galaxy.
Yobo had 101 international caps playing for the Super Eagles. He captained Nigeria to lift the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.