Rabiu Afolabi

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Rabiu Afolabi
Rabiu Afolabi18.JPG
Personal information
Full name Rabiu Afolabi
Date of birth (1980-04-18) 18 April 1980 (age 36)
Place of birth Osogbo, Nigeria
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)
Playing position Centre Back
Club information
Current team
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997 NEPA Lagos
1997–2003 Standard Liège 89 (2)
2000–2001 Napoli (loan) 0 (0)
2003–2005 Austria Wien 60 (1)
2005–2009 Sochaux 123 (5)
2009–2011 Red Bull Salzburg 62 (4)
2011–2012 Monaco 14 (1)
2013 SønderjyskE 5 (0)
Total 353 (13)
National team
2000–2010 Nigeria 20 (1)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Rabiu Afolabi (born 18 April 1980 in Osogbo, Osun State), is a retired Nigerian footballer, who played as a defender.


Afolabi in a match against SV Kapfenberg.

Born in Osogbo, Nigeria, Afolabi started his football career at NEPA Lagos. Afolabi soon left his home country by moving to Belgium to Standard Liège after impressing at the 1997 edition of the UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup. Once he made a move to Belgium, Afolabi immediately fell in love with the style of play.[1] In the 1997–1998 season, he played in three matches in the Eerste Klasse, of which two in the first team. Standard, however, played a poor season and finished it on the 9th place in the table. Rabiu The next season he was the club's primary competitor Liège. He played in 26 games, scored a goal and finished with his club team, sixth place in the league. Standard has also played in the finals of Cup of Belgium, but there lost 1-3 to Lierse S.K.. In the 1999/2000 season also brought the club Afolabiego no success. Standard finished fifth place, and Rabiu again scored a goal in a season, with twenty-four appearance.

At Standard Liege, he became a regular player which impressed the club that he signed for Italian Serie A side Napoli ahead of the 2000–2001 season, but failed to break into the first team, and spent more time out of the first team due to injuries. Despite being fit, he would play in the club's reserves. Having returned to Belgium before the season was over as there was an opportunity not only match, but his return was an important member of the Standard Liege has. After half a year wasted in Italy, Afolabi went back to Liege. The team he played but only in the following season – 2001/2002. Standard finished fifth place, Afolabi was named the best defender in Belgium, having made an impressive performance. The next season was not as successful. Rabiu played only 14 league matches, and even less the standard finishing league play at the 7th positions.

Career in Austria[edit]

In 2003, Afolabi decided to move to an Austrian club Austria Wien on the free transfer.[2] Afolabi made his debut for the club in the Austrian Supercup, which Wien won 2-1 against FC Kärnten. Five days, Afolabi played his first league debut for the club, but this time it was against FC Kärnten, only to lost 2-1, to gain FC Kärnten revenge five days earlier. In his first season, Afolabi has played 33 matches and had a pretty good season. In summer 2004 showed interest on Afolabi from Marseille, as well as other clubs, but ultimately decided to stay in Vienna. He played in 27 league games in the season, all from the first until the last minute and scored one goal in a 3–0 win away match against FC Wacker Tirol. The team, however, Austria was criticized for his attitude in a weaker league and finished third place, just behind rival Rapid Wien and Grazer.

The following season, Afolabi started his season, missing out about six games, but continued to be in the first team. He then scored his first goal in a 3-0 win over Wacker Innsbruck on 9 April 2005. Speaking of the league, Afolabi led the club go through to the 2004–05 UEFA Cup tournament, making an impressive performance until the club elimination by Italian side Parma after away goal for Parma in the first round. Like last season, the club would also win the Austrian Supercupwhich the match was 1-1, leading to play on in extra-time before settling on penalties shoot-out, which Austria Wien won on penalties 5-3.

Career in France[edit]

After the season 2004/2005 in Austria, some players was linked a move away from clubs. Among them was also Afolabi, who for 2 million went to Sochaux. In his Ligue 1 debut, on 13 August 2005, he came on as a substitute for youngsters, Jérémy Ménez when the club won 2–1 away match against Nice. But it was not successful debut as Afolabi sent off in the 87th minute of the match. Towards the end of the season, Afolabi scored his first goal, on 6 May 2006, drew at home to Troyes. Generally well introduced to the team and the evaluation of this does not spoil even the fact that Sochaux soon have lack of goals in the league, mostly, with a lost and a nil-nil draw, which eventually, the club was in 15th place. At Sochaux, Afolabi spent four seasons, having won one achievement: Coupe de France in 2007 against Marseille, where it was 2-2, leading to play on in extra-time before settling on penalties shoot-out, which Sochaux won 5-4 on penalties. Afobabi later on stated that winning the Coupe de France is his greatest moment of his career.[1]

Return to Austria[edit]

Afolabi in a match during his time at Salzburg

After leaving Sochaux at the end of 2008–2009 season on free agent,[3] he returned to Austria by signing a two-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg[4] despite being linked with newly promoted Premier League side Burnley.[5] Afolabi was a regular player in central defense. Afolabi headed home an important winning goal away to title rivals SK Rapid Wien in February 2010 to help keep the Red Bulls on course for the championship. Eventually, Red Bull Salzburg would win the title and Afolabi told MTNFootball.com that the win led him saying "the happiest man on the planet"[6]

On 7 November 2010, he made his 100th Austrian Bundesliga match (playing 60 appearance for FK Austria Wien and 40 appearance for Red Bull Salzburg). After his second season in Salzburg, his contract was not renewed and Afolabi was able to find a new club. While in his second season, Afolabi was available for transfer as he soon became was surplus to requirements.[7]

Return to France[edit]

Following his released from Salzburg, Afolabi was linked with German side Eintracht Frankfurt and offered to sign him but on 31 August 2011, Afolabi returned to France after two years with Salzberg by joining recently relegated Monaco on a free transfer with a 2-year contract with the club.[8] After the move, Afolabi explained his decision in the MTN Football interview rejecting Frankfurt, in favour of Monaco, stating he wanted to return to France, whose culture, language and football he has known well for.[9]

On 19 September 2011, Afolabi scored his debut in a 1–0 victory over against Arles-Avignon, giving Monaco their win in Ligue 2.[10] However, due to ownership of managers and chairman, Afolabi featured less at Monaco and after one year at the club, it announced on the club's website that Afolabi left the club by mutual consent despite one more year on his contract.[11]

Career in Denmark and Retirement[edit]

After eight months without a club, Afolabi went on trial at Danish Superliga club SønderjyskE, with a view of winning a contract[12] and eventually signed for club for the rest of the 2012-13 season on the 13 March 2013, he was given the shirt number 22.[13] His job in the club, was helping the team to survive in the Danish Superliga. He also wanted to get some games on top level again, after a failure time in Monaco.

In his debut for SønderjyskE, in a match against Silkeborg IF on the 28 March 2013, Afolabi helped his team to a 5-0 victory over the rivals in the bottom of the table. Afolabi, was named as one of the best players on the field.[14] Having played three match, Afolabi fractured his rib, which resulted him substituted during a match against Midtjylland, which SønderjyskE lost 2-0 and after the match, it announced he would be out for between three and four weeks.[15] Following his return, Afolabi would go on to finish five appearances in total and the club would survive relegation, finishing in eighth place. At the end of the season, the club remained keen on keeping Afolabi by offering him a new contract.[16] Despite being an offered a new contract, Afolabi left the club after three months there.[17]

After leaving Denmark, Afolabi announces his retirement and pursue his football career in football management and scouting, having earnt his certificate and his playing career came to an end,.[1]


Afolabi is a strong and lanky central defender, who is good aerially and has a thunderous shot. He is also very versatile and can play as a fullback or defensive midfielder as well. However, He's dangerous on set pieces.

International career[edit]

Afolabi played a vital role for Nigeria in the 1999 African Youth Championship, coming from defence to score the two goals against Cameroon in the semi-final. Nigeria eventually finished second in the tournament after losing 0–1 to the hosts, Ghana, in the final. Afolabi then captained the Nigerian under-20 team in the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria. On 17 June 2000, he made his full international debut for Nigeria in a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone. Afolabi was part of the Nigeria squads at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups.


His name, Afolabi, means "Born into wealth".[18] His nickname in Nigeria is Robocop because of his stiff movements.

In 2011, Afolabi was involved in a charity called "The Rabiu Afolabi Educational Foundation" by setting up a foundation, which he started out with a donation of 50,000 customised books worth about $20,000 to selected public primary and secondary schools in his home state of Oshun State.[19]


  1. ^ a b c "EX-WORLD CUP STAR AFOLABI TO HANG BOOTS". African Football Website. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "RECORD TRANSFER Beckham could eclipse unless "CHELSEA"" [РЕКОРДНЫЙ ТРАНСФЕР БЕКХЭМА МОЖЕТ ЗАТМИТЬ РАЗВЕ ЧТО "ЧЕЛСИ"] (in Russian). Sport Express. 14 July 2003. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Rabiu Afolabi Plans Europe Stay After Sochaux Exit". Goal.com. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Nigeria's Afolabi joins Salzburg". BBC Sport. 30 August 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Burnley line up Nigerian defender". Mirror Football. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Afolabi Is 'Happiest Man On Planet'". MTN Football. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Red Bull Salzburg want to sell RABIU AFOLABI". All Nigeria Soccer. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rabiu Afolabi Seals New 2-Year Monaco Deal". Complete Sports Nigeria. 1 September 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Afolabi thrilled with Monaco move". MTN Football. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "AS Monaco 1–0 Arles-Avigon". Soccerway. 19 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Monaco : Afolabi a résilié". Mercato.fr. 31 August 2012. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Rabiu Afolabi Starts Trials With Sonderjyske". All Nigeria Soccer. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  13. ^ "Official: Rabiu Afolabi Joins SonderjyskE". All Nigeria Soccer. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Rabiu Afolabi's debut on ice in Denmark". Futaa.com. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Keshi's New Boy Injured -Ogu Joins Crocked Nigerian Stars -Afolabi, Obasi Face Long Absences". Sportsday Online. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "SønderjyskE forhandler med trio" (in Danish). Bold.dk. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "SønderjyskE overvejer offensiv forstærkning" (in Danish). Tips Bladet. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Meaning of Afolabi in Nigerian.name
  19. ^ "Afolabi helps out Nigerian public schools". MTN Football. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 

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