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20 years ago today Championship Manager 01/02 was released and the game made an instant icon and legend out of Nigeria defender Taribo West.
For many CM 01/02 is one of the best versions of the Championship Manager franchise that was ever released.
But it is perhaps West, and his availability on a free transfer when you started your career on the game, who is the one whose legacy was best maintained by the game.
West was a decent centre back in the mid 90s to early 00s in a generation where defenders biggest attribute was their defending, and less emphasis was put on their ability to pass.
The Nigerian played for Auxerre in France before moving to Italy where he played for both Inter and AC Milan, eventually landing in England on loan to Derby and then moving on to Germany and Serbia.
He was best known for incredible hair and his green and white braids made him famous in the 1998 World Cup, also playing for his country in the 2002 edition and winning the Olympics in 1996.
But for all he achieved in reality on the pitch the defender, who could play on the left as well as in the centre, was arguably known best for being available for free at the beginning of Championship Manager 01/02- arguably the best version of the football sim, thanks in some part to nostalgia:
Happy birthday to the hottest free agent in Champ Man history. A dreadlocked destroyer. A defensive colossus. A gun for hire who had new managers from Barcelona to Bradford scrabbling for his signature:— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) March 26, 2018
- Start New Game
- Board Expectations
- Sign Taribo West#ThankYouTaribo pic.twitter.com/Tv2W0MoHXc
Of course we can't boil all his career down simply to a game but it's true that anyone of a certain age who loved playing Champ Man, and later Football Manager, would have had a save with West in their ranks.
Whether you started with a lower league team or one of Europe's elite there was always the chance to sign the former Inter man on a free transfer at the beginning of the game and there was a chance you'd bag him.
Not only could you sign him but you'd be guaranteed he would be a success. I have played 100s of saves on that game and signed him on most of those without a single failure.
“Dad, why is my sister called Rose?”— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) August 8, 2021
“Because your mum loves roses”
“Got it. Thanks Dad”
“No problem, Taribo West On A Free” pic.twitter.com/HHitVOplUS
West was truly one of the cult heroes not just of the game but of 90s football. He played alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Javier Zanetti, Diego Simeone and Youri Djorkaeff in Inter's UEFA Cup win in 1998 and Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha and Daniel Amokachi in his country's Olympic success in Atalanta in 96.
He had quite the storied career on the pitch but it was in our computers and our hearts where the magic really took place for many of us.
If you want to celebrate the anniversary of CM 01/02's release you can download it and sign West all over again, or even play it with modern day players if you prefer.
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