Joseph Phillip Yobo (born 6 September 1980) is a former Nigerian professional footballer who played as a centre back. He was the captain of the Nigerian national team until his international football retirement in June 2014, and is Nigeria’s joint record appearance holder.
Yobo’s birthplace is Kono, a community in the Khana area of Rivers State, Nigeria.
Yobo left Nigeria to join Standard Liège in 1998. He made his first team debut in 2000, and went on to appear 46 times. In 2001, he was bought by Marseille.
Soon after making his debut, Yobo was loaned to Tenerife. After around nine months, Yobo returned to Marseille, before joining Everton, again on loan, in July 2002. A £1 million fee was required to register the player, and he became the first signing of David Moyes. An option to make the move permanent was taken up and completed in 2003 after a dispute between Yobo and Marseille was settled with Everton agreeing a fixed additional fee of £4 million.
Yobo became one of the most consistent players in the Everton squad, and was one of only seven players in the entire league to play every minute of every game throughout the 2006–07 season; his teammate Joleon Lescott also being an ever-present throughout the season.
On 31 August 2010, Yobo signed a one-year loan contract with Fenerbahçe. Yobo played in 30 official matches and scored a goal, helping his team win the league title. On 6 September 2011, Fenerbahçe and Everton agreed on another loan deal for €700,000 and Yobo signed a one-year contract worth €2.35 million. On 4 August 2012, he re-signed for Fenerbahçe once again, but this time on a permanent basis on a 3-year contract, after having played for Everton for 10 years. On 17 August Fenerbahçe played against Torku Konyaspor and Yobo scored a goal in this match.[ Before the 2014-2015 season his contract with Fenerbahçe was terminated with mutual agreement.
On 30 January 2014, Yobo returned to England on loan at Norwich City for the remainder of the season with a view to a permanent move in the summer.
He marked his debut for the club with a clean sheet against top-scoring club Manchester City on 8 February.
Yobo is a former Nigeria international, who has been capped 101 times and represented the Super Eagles at three FIFA World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
After participating in Nigeria’s run to the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship quarter-finals, Yobo made his senior international debut against Zambia in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier on 24 March 2001. He played in all six of the team’s matches in the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations and was included in the squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where he was again ever-present, assisting Julius Aghahowa’s goal in a 2–1 loss to Sweden.
Yobo made his second World Cup appearance at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, after which he assumed the captaincy on the international retirement of Nwankwo Kanu. The veteran defender was no longer a first choice player at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, but lifted the trophy after appearing as an 89th-minute substitute in Nigeria’s 1–0 final defeat of Burkina Faso.
In June 2014, Yobo was included in Stephen Keshi’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was named in the starting line-up for both the second and third group matches, helping the Super Eagles to clean sheet in a 1–0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 30 June, he made his 100th international appearance, captaining Nigeria against France in the round of 16. After scoring an own goal in the 2–0 defeat, Yobo announced his international retirement, saying: “This is it. I can look back on my career with great pride. I wanted to leave on a high for my country. Defeat by France was not the right way to go but I’m happy with all I’ve done for the national team. It’s time to give a chance to other people to come through.”
In 2010, following a brief courtship, Yobo married former MBGN Adaeze Igwe in a midnight ceremony held in Jos. The couple wedded in a very low key ceremony barely three months after they met in December 2009. However, it is known that they are said to be trying to hide their marital troubles from the press and general public. The couple welcomed a baby boy named Joey Yobo April 2010.
He is the younger brother of former Nigeria international Albert Yobo. In July 2008, his younger brother Norum was kidnapped in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria and held for ransom. He was eventually released after 12 days on 17 July 2008.
It was widely reported in the Nigerian media that Yobo went to T.B. Joshua for prayers after suffering a hamstring injury in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.Joseph Yobo and his wife, Adaeze Igwe were conferred with chieftaincy titles of Mene Aborlo 1 and Waamene Aborlo 1 respectively of Ogoniland by King GNK Gininwa of Ogoni Kingdom on Saturday, 28 May 2016. This was a day after his testimonial match marking his exit from active football was organised by the Rivers State Government on Friday, 27 May 2016
In 2007, Yobo set up the Joseph Yobo Charity Foundation,to help under-privileged children in Nigeria. As of 18 July 2007, he has handed out over 300 scholarship awards ranging from primary to university level. Yobo has started a football academy in the Ogoni region of Nigeria. He also runs football camps in Lagos.