Throwback: When Celestine Babayaro saw Hell at Camp Nou

On 23 November 1994, a young and little-known defender made his Champions League bow at the Stadionul Steaua, in a match between Steaua Bucharest and Anderlecht.

His name is Celestine Babayaro.

It’s a night the Nigerian would probably want to re-write, if it were possible, as what was to be a memorable night turned sour.

His debut lasted only 37 minutes as he was sent off, further making him the youngest player to have been sent off in a Champions League tie!

After the 1996 Olympic games in Atalanta, where Nigeria won gold, Babayaro moved to Chelsea, becoming the first African player to sign for the London club, where he spent more than seven seasons and made nearly 200 appearances.

He was known for his sheer strength and pace on the wing and was regarded as one of the most reliable left-backs the club ever had.

Overall, Babayaro made over 250 appearances during his 14-year club career, winning a number of trophies including the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup during his time at Chelsea.

He was also part of the team that won the English Premier League title in 2004/05 season, even though he made few starts in what was his final season.

The Nigerian moved to Newcastle In January 2005 for an undisclosed fee and established himself as the first-choice left-back.

Injuries kicked in, ruining his Newcastle career as he spent months on the treatment table. He tried to move to MLS but failed, finally announcing his retirement in 2010.

Sadly, he was declared bankrupt a few months after his retirement.

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