Former Nigeria defender Taribo West has claimed that the mafia put paid to his hopes of being a success at Serie A giants AC Milan.
West, 45, joined Milan from cross-town rivals Inter in December 1999, but after making just four appearances was loaned out to then-Premier League side Derby County in November 2000, and never played for the Rossoneri again.
Speaking in the Nigerian media on Sunday, he said Italian mobsters could not accept a player from Africa coming into the Milan team at the expense of defenders such as Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta, both Italian club legends.
“The mafia would do anything in their powers to make sure I was done away with at Milan,” West told Score Nigeria.
“They cooked a vicious story in the press that I was injured in the desperate bid to send me out of Milan.
“The doctors were bribed to say I was injured, but it was a lie. They did that because they felt it was unthinkable for a African player to take the place of those […] aging defenders.
West, who also played for clubs including Auxerre, Partizan Belgrade and Plymouth Argyle, won 42 caps for Nigeria between 1994 and 2005, and retired in 2008.