The 2009-10 season could have seen a landmark in marking the 300th first team appearance for Barnet Football Club of Ismail Yakubu but ironically an injury robbed him of the accolade. However with the departure of then Manager Ian Hendon numerous players were released or moved on – Ismail, to the consternation of many supporters, was one of them.
He was stranded on 296 appearances including 17 as substitute. Still an formidable achievement and his contribution to the team over the 9 seasons he was at Underhill must never be underestimated.
Ismail Salami Yakubu was born in Kano State in the North West of Nigeria on April 8th 1985. Growing up in England as a youth he was a keen athlete excelling at 400 metres hurdles, and both Long and Triple Jump. He joined Barnet at the age of 11, turning professional at the age of 16.
In March 2002 at the age of 17, and still studying for his A Levels, he appeared as an unused substitute in the 4-0 win at home to Dagenham & Redbridge in the following line up.
Lee Harrison, Lee Gledhill, Lee Flynn, Lee Pluck, Mark Arber, Austin Berkley, Mark Gower, Fraser Toms, John Doolan, Wayne Purser and Neil Midgeley. Subs Ismail Yakubu, Toby Oshitola, Leon Bell, Stuart Niven and Danny Naisbitt.
At Stevenage Borough on 25th March 2002 he came on as a second half substitute for Lee Pluck. The Bees narrowly lost 3-2 that afternoon.
Yakubu was used in either, central defence or midfield roles over the next two seasons and unfortunately suffered with niggling injuries in 2003-4 which restricted his appearances to just 12 but it was soon apparent where his strengths lie. Paul Fairclough installed him alongside the defensive unit of Ian Hendon, Simon King and Simon Clist and this little team was paramount to our promotion back to the League season in 2004-5.He scored occasionally too normally from power headers from corners. His most exciting goal the last gasp winner at Underhill in the 2-1 victory over Stevenage Borough in January 2005.
|Scoring against Stevenage 2005|
Although Yakubu had trained with West Ham United and Manchester City, played for Arsenal in a tournament in the Far East and turned out for Chelsea, he had remained a one-club man. Ismail has also made 6 appearances of England at semi professional level.
Even though he missed a series of games at the end of the 2006/7 season due to a difficult and painful hip injury Ismail was voted Most Improved Player at the Supporters Association awards evening and recovered to the news that Paul Fairclough was handing him the responsibility of team Captain. He relinquished this in November 2008 to concentrate on his defensive duties signing a new 1 year contract with option in June 2009.
In January 2009 Ismail was seriously injured again in the 1-1 draw at Underhill and missed virtually all of the remaining season. He did return as a substitute for the final game - the 1-0 win (Albert Jarrett) over Rochdale in the following line up:
Jake Cole, Joe Devera, Ahmed Deen, Gary Breen, Kenny Gillet, Mark Hughes, Albert Adomah, Mauro Vilhete, Mica Hyde, John O'Flynn and Ed Upson. Subs Albert Jarrett, Ismail Yakubu, Nicky Deverdics, Paul Furlong, Phil Carpenter, Daniel Leach and Chris James. It was to be his last appearance at Barnet.
A move to Blue Square Premier side AFC Wimbledon followed in August where he spent a season before moving on further to Newport County winning a Conference Play-off medal at Wembley in 2013 and returning to the Football League.
At the time of writing Ismail is still hitting the headlines scoring for County at home to Portsmouth in League 2 on 29th March 2014.
I have always found Ismail a very articulate, pleasant and approachable young man and was a credit our club. He was always incredibly courteous towards Mrs Reckless whenever he saw her. (She thought hm particularly handsome too).
May I take this opportunity to applaud a loyal and faithful servant to Barnet Football Club, and salute Ismail Yakubu wishing him all the very best for the future. May it be the springboard to greater things in the game and give us Bees supporters the opportunity to boast that we saw Ismail begin and develop his career.
Ismail Yakubu Appearances 296 Goals 20