Babayaro, Okocha return to Nigeria’s squad

Austin Jay Jay Okocha

• Promises Acrobatics If He Scores In London

Former Super Eagles defender, Celestine Babayaro and teammate Jay-Jay Okocha, will return to international football next month, when they join forces with others to fly Nigeria’s flag at the inaugural International six-a-side tournament.

According to Sky Sports, Babayaro is promising to perform his trademark celebratory backflip if he scores for Nigeria. The former Chelsea and Newcastle defender is the latest star to be unveiled for the tournament, which will be held at London’s O2 Arena from July 13 to 16.

Babayaro was famous for his acrobatics until it was revealed he had broken a metatarsal, but he insists it will not stop him celebrating in style if he scores at the Dome this summer.

“If I score the odd goal at Star Sixes, the backflip could well be on again,” said Babayaro. They will kick off the tournament against China on Thursday, July 13.

“It was a bit of a misconception that I broke my leg doing it after scoring for Chelsea. I had actually fractured my fifth metatarsal on the training ground, not in the game. But it was a story that stuck.”

Babayaro has no problem with his fitness now, though, and can’t wait to play for his country again this summer.As well as China, Nigeria also face group encounters with Italy and Brazil in the 12-team tournament that features a galaxy of stars from the world of football, all recently retired from the professional game.

Icons such as Steven Gerrard, Michael Ballack, Roberto Carlos, Deco, Carles Puyol, Robert Pires, Rio Ferdinand and Marcel Desailly will all be in action for their countries, vying for the honour of claiming the first Star Sixes title in the final on Sunday 16 July.

“It will be a new-style tournament, with superstars from international football taking part, and I can’t wait for it,” continued Babayaro. “It should be really exciting for us players, and the fans, and it will be a chance to interact with them more than usual, doing photos and autographs.”

He added: “Pulling on the green and white of the Super Eagles will bring the memories flooding back.“There are some great players that I played against as well, the likes of Michael Owen, Gerrard and David James, so it should be a special tournament.”


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