Taye Taiwo

At 27 (dob 16/4/85) these are the peak years for Taye Taiwo, yet the buccaneering left-back finds his career at a crossroads.

An upturn in his form with Dynamo Kiev was not enough to earn a place at the Cup of Nations and at the end of the season he’ll have some tricky decisions to make about where to continue his club career.

When he made the decision to leave Marseille in the summer of 2011 Taiwo was on a definite high. Marseille had won back-to-back League Cups with Taiwo scoring the winning goal in 2011. In 2010 Marseille had claimed their first title for 18 years. Now Milan beckoned.

He made his Milan on 24 September 2011 in the home league match against Cesena, but by December the Milan dream had already turned sour and he was sharing his disappointment in the press about his Milanese adventure, commenting on problems with coach Massimiliano Allegri and on the fact that he wasn't playing.

In January 2012 Taiwo joined Premier league club Queens Park Rangers on a loan deal until the end of the season, with the option to buy for a fee of around £3.5 million. He made his debut on February 1 against Aston Villa.
Despite the option to stay in England Taiwo joined FC Dynamo Kyiv in July 2012 on a one-year loan deal with the option of making the move permanent at the end of the season.

Rewind to the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and you’ll find Taye Taiwo named the third best player in that tournament after scoring two goals as Nigeria went all the way to the final before falling to Argentina. It was quite a recognition for a left back, and Taiwo, already at Marseille having gone there from Nigerian club Lobi Stars in 2004, went from strength to strength to become one of the most exciting defenders in Europe.

He was named CAF African Young Player of Year for 2006 after his performances with the French club lit up the Ligue 1. With Marseille he also won the Intertoto Cup in 2005 and reached consecutive French Cup finals in 2006 and 2007.

Fast, driven and possessing of a famously thumping shot, Taiwo looked as if he would emerged as a leader of the new generation of players trying to re-establish Nigeria’s international reputation. Instead he is redefining himself after a difficult time in club football.

Having made his international debut in 2004 in South Africa at the Mandela Challenge. Since then he has been part of the Super Eagles teams that finished third at the 2006 and 2010 CAF Africa Cup of Nations as well as reached the quarter-finals in the same tournament in 2008. It’s a measure of his precociousness that he scored on his AFCON debut to defeat Ghana, with a goal in the 85th minute no less.

He does have a reputation for letting his defensive responsibilities lapse, which is why he lost his place at the 2010 Cup of Nations to Elderson Echiejile after the opening 3-1 defeat to Egypt. He suffered a particularly embarrassing moment in the loss to the eventual champions when he turned his back on Ahmed Hassan’s long shot only to have the ball deflect off him and into his goal.



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