Mehdi Nafti

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Mehdi Nafti
Mehdi Nafti Birmingham City 2005.jpg
Nafti in action for Birmingham in 2005
Personal information
Full name Mehdi Ben Sadok Nafti
Date of birth (1978-11-28) 28 November 1978 (age 38)
Place of birth Toulouse, France
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Defensive midfielder
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997–2000 Toulouse 25 (1)
2000–2001 Racing B 21 (0)
2000–2005 Racing Santander 110 (3)
2005 Birmingham City (loan) 10 (0)
2005–2009 Birmingham City 70 (0)
2009–2011 Aris 34 (4)
2011–2012 Valladolid 51 (1)
2012–2013 Murcia 30 (0)
2013–2014 Cádiz 15 (0)
Total 366 (9)
National team
2002–2010 Tunisia 44 (1)
Teams managed
2016–2017 Marbella
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Mehdi Ben Sadok Nafti (Arabic: مهدي النفطي‎‎; born 28 November 1978) is a Tunisian professional football manager, and retired footballer who played as a defensive midfielder.

During his professional career he played in four countries in representation of seven teams, including Toulouse, Racing de Santander and Birmingham City.

Nafti gained 44 caps for Tunisia, representing the nation at the 2006 World Cup and three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

Club career[edit]

Born in Toulouse, France, Nafti made his professional debut with his hometown club, Toulouse FC. He was used sparingly during a three-year spell, and also played several games with the reserves. His best season was 1999–2000, as he appeared in 13 games and scored once to help the team return to Ligue 1 after one year of absence.

In the 2000 summer Nafti joined Racing de Santander in La Liga and, as in his previous club, started his stint appearing for the B-team. In the 2000–01 season he played in just three games for the main squad, which was eventually relegated, then proceeded to become a very important midfield element for the Cantabrians in the following three years, whilst collecting 35 yellow cards and three red.

Nafti was signed on loan by Birmingham City in the final minutes of the January 2005 transfer window.[1] Often referred to as "Nasty"[2] due to his fiery nature and tendency for cautions, he was primarily signed to replace the outgoing Robbie Savage, and finished the season strongly for the Blues, which led to a permanent deal being agreed in the summer.[3]

Nafti's 2005–06 campaign came to end before it had even begun, with a severe injury to his cruciate ligaments in a friendly with Deportivo de La Coruña in early August 2005.[4] He recovered sooner than expected[5] and still appeared in the last matchday, a 1–0 loss at Bolton Wanderers,[6] but Birmingham suffered relegation.

After having appeared in 32 games in 2006–07 to help Birmingham return to the Premier League, Nafti scored his first competitive goal for the club in August 2008, in a 4–0 win against Wycombe Wanderers in the 2008–09 League Cup.[7] In June 2009, after Birmingham chose not to renew his contract,[8] he signed a two-year contract with Aris Thessaloniki in Greece.[9]

On 12 September 2009, Nafti scored the only goal of the home match against PAS Giannina to put Aris top of the Superleague Greece after three matches,[10] and finished his debut season with four goals in 22 league games,[11] with the team ranking fifth.

During the January 2011 transfer window, the 32-year-old Nafti left Aris and returned to Spain, signing an 18-month contract with Segunda División club Real Valladolid.[12] He spent the 2012–13 season with Real Murcia, helping them avoid relegation from the second tier, and had considered retiring from the game before dropping down a division to sign for Cádiz. He established himself in the team, but was troubled by injury, and after Cádiz signed midfielder Jon Ander Garrido in the January 2014 transfer window, Nafti's contract was cancelled.[13][14][15]

Managerial career[edit]

On 10 June 2016, Nafti was given his first managerial job, at Segunda División B club Marbella, despite not possessing the licence required to manage at that level.[16] After a series of poor results, Nafti was fired on 7 March 2017.[17]

International career[edit]

A Tunisian international since 2002, Nafti represented the nation in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, helping it win the 2004 edition, played on home soil. He then appeared in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, playing against Australia (2–0 win) and Germany (0–3 loss).

Nafti was selected for the squad that competed in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, appearing in all three games as Tunisia exited in the group stage.[18]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of match played 5 March 2017
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
Marbella[19] 10 June 2016[16] 7 March 2017[17] 28 14 7 7 39 33 +6 50.00
Total 28 14 7 7 39 33 +6 50.00


  1. ^ "Birmingham recruit Nafti on loan". BBC Sport. 31 January 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Clarkson, Ian (20 February 2005). "Football: I'm called nasty for a reason". Sunday Mercury. Birmingham. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Birmingham complete Nafti signing". BBC Sport. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Nafti set to miss entire season". BBC Sport. 10 August 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Nafti continues comeback trail". BBC Sport. 11 April 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Bolton 1–0 Birmingham". BBC Sport. 7 May 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "Wycombe 0–4 Birmingham". BBC Sport. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "Squad rebuilding begins". Birmingham City F.C. 8 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Mehdi Nafti signed Aris FC". Aris FC. 10 June 2009. Archived from the original on 17 June 2009. 
  10. ^ "Win 1–0 over PAS Ioannina". Aris FC. 12 September 2009. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. 
  11. ^ "Aris: Mehdi Nafti Superleague 2009–2010". Superleague Greece. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "El Real Valladolid ficha al medio centro Nafti" [Real Valladolid signs central midfielder Nafti] (in Spanish). Real Valladolid. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Quiñones Miralles, Javi (20 November 2013). "Mehdi Nafti, "El Padrino" del Cádiz" [Mehdi Nafti, "The Godfather" of Cádiz]. Vavel (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Ruiz, Alfonso & Léon, C. (15 December 2013). "El Cádiz, a ganar para no perder de vista la cabeza" [Cádiz, to win so they don't lose sight of the top] (PDF). Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). p. 34. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Grima, José (28 January 2014). "Sergio Aragoneses, nuevo portero del Cádiz CF" [Sergio Aragoneses, new Cádiz goalkeeper]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Mehdi Nafti, el Zidane del Marbella FC para la próxima temporada" [Mehdi Nafti, Marbella FC's Zidane for next season] (in Spanish). Marbella 24 Horas. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "El Marbella destituye a Mehdi Nafti y le sustituye Miguel Álvarez" [Marbella dismiss Mehdi Nafti and replace him with Miguel Álvarez]. Marca (in Spanish). 7 March 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  18. ^ Mehdi NaftiFIFA competition record
  19. ^ "Nafti: Mehdi Ben Sadok Nafti Matches 2016–17". BDFutbol. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 

External links[edit]