In a desperate bid to play in Europe, former Nigeria international Taribo West revealed that his deal with Auxerre was signed ‘without knowing the content and conditions binding the contract’.
In 1993, the 44-year-old moved to Europe to join the French club, under the guidance of Guy Roux.
And while his four-year spell in the Ligue 1 yielded several successes on the field of play – helping his side to their first ever league title in the 1995-96 campaign, his condition off it was in stark distinct.
West, who played alongside the likes of Laurent Blanc and Sabri Lamouchi, said that his earnings were so low and could be compared to playing ‘for free’.
The Olympic gold medallist admitted that not understanding the French language was a major part of the problem as his agent represented his own interest.
“I played in Auxerre for free,” West said at Footballers Connect, a conference aimed at educating aspiring footballers amongst others.
“I was playing under a contract for five years without knowing the content and conditions binding the contract.
“After the third year, Arsenal, Juventus, Glasgow Rangers and Sevilla Betis came for me,” he added.
“I went to the coach starting that I wanted to leave but he sat me down and showed me my contract terms with Auxerre. I saw the details of what I had signed. Where my fellow defenders were earning as high as 120,000 French francs, I was going home with 3000 French francs.
“I wanted to set Auxerre on fire that day. Immediately, I called my manager who was turning me left and right [while] enjoying himself in Senegal.”
West, a 42-cap former Super Eagles centre-back, said the issue persisted when he switched to Italy to join Serie A giants Inter Milan in the summer of 1997.
“One day I went to see my coach after training where I met a certain manager who told me about five clubs were interested in signing me up. On the table, I saw Arsenal, Juventus, Glasgow Rangers, Betis Sevilla and Inter Milan.
“He began to make calls and Inter was the destination, I signed the contract papers without knowing its content yet again.”
In 2000, the defender left for city rivals AC Milan and went on to play for the likes of Derby County, FC Kaiserslautern, Partizan, Al-Arabi and Plymouth Argyle.