Vitālijs Astafjevs

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Vitālijs Astafjevs
Astafjevs in training with Latvia in 2009
Personal information
Date of birth (1971-04-03) 3 April 1971 (age 53)
Place of birth Riga, Latvian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Position(s) Midfielder
Team information
Current team
Aris Limassol (assistant manager)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990–1992 Daugava Rīga 26 (11)
1992–1996 Skonto 99 (43)
1996–1997 Austria Vienna 26 (1)
1997–1999 Skonto 55 (17)
1999–2003 Bristol Rovers 108 (16)
2003–2004 Admira Wacker 28 (2)
2004–2005 Rubin Kazan 30 (10)
2006–2008 Skonto 26 (6)
2009 RFS/Olimps 14 (1)
2009 Ventspils 5 (0)
2010 Skonto 14 (2)
Total 431 (109)
International career
1992–2010 Latvia 167 (16[1])
Managerial career
2010–2014 Skonto Riga (assistant manager)
2012 Skonto-2
2013 Latvia U-21 (assistant manager)
2013–2018 Latvia (assistant manager)
2014–2016 FK Jelgava
2020 Riga FC II
2021– Aris Limassol (assistant manager)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Vitālijs Astafjevs (born 3 April 1971) is a Latvian professional football coach and former player who played as a midfielder. He is an assistant manager of Cypriot club Aris Limassol having previously held the role for the Latvia national team.

Astafjevs won nine Latvian championships with Skonto Riga. He also played abroad for clubs in Austria, England and Russia. At international level, Astaefjevs captained Latvia at UEFA Euro 2004. With 167 caps for his country Astafjevs held the European record for the most international matches played, until being overtaken by Gianluigi Buffon in 2017. He is currently the joint sixteenth-most capped male footballer in history, alongside Iker Casillas.[2]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Riga, Astafjevs started his professional career with Skonto Riga in 1992, shortly after Latvia had regained its independence from the Soviet Union. He played there for five seasons, until 1996, becoming a vital first eleven player. They won the league in each of his first four seasons. Twice, in 1995 and 1996, Astafjevs was named the Latvian footballer of the year. In 1995, atypically for a midfielder, he became the top scorer of the league with 19 goals in 28 matches. In 1996, he moved abroad for the first time in his career and joined Austria Vienna in Austria. He played there just for a season and then, in 1997, returned to Skonto. He played there for three seasons, and won three more league titles. He went abroad again in 2000, this time joining Football League Division Two side Bristol Rovers in England.

Bristol Rovers[edit]

Astafjevs was signed for Rovers by Ian Holloway, who then managed to persuade authorities to issue him with a work permit. He arrived in the second half of the 1999-2000 season when the club were in second place. His fifth match was away to Oldham Athletic and saw him score and set up two more in an eventual 4–1 win, despite being stretchered off. Rovers fell to seventh by the end of the season, missing the play-offs. The following season had them relegated to the fourth tier for the first time in their history. He scored only twice during the 2001–02 season, but in the following campaign he scored four in the last six league matches to avoid a further relegation. He was then released by manager Ray Graydon.[3]

Later career[edit]

In 2003, after being released, he returned to Austria and joined Admira Wacker Mödling. In 2004, after the European Championship, having spent one season in Austria, Astafjevs joined the Russian Premier League club Rubin Kazan. Once again he was one of the team's leaders there. Finishing the 2005 season, Astafjevs decided to join Skonto Riga again, where he became the Latvian champion 8 times (previous years of playing also included). In 2007, at the age of 36, he was once again named Latvian footballer of the year.

On 9 September 2008, alongside his teammate Marians Pahars, Astafjevs announced his retirement from professional football. After a few days Astafjevs declined this fact, stating he could play for a different club. After the new year it was announced that Astafjevs would play for Olimps/RFS and he would also be the assistant manager alongside Andrejs Štolcers and Mihails Koņevs, whilst the manager of the club would be the Dutch coach Anton Joore.[4] Olimps/RFS then hadn't secured themselves a place in the higher league yet, but there was a possibility if the club merged with another team from Riga. After a half season spent there he joined last season's champions Ventspils, who were completing their squad for the upcoming UEFA Europa League matches.[5] Appearing in the tournament's group stages, Astafjevs played only 5 matches there and was released in November 2009. In 2010 Astafjevs returned to Skonto Riga once again and became the Latvian champion with them. After the 2010 season Astafjevs retired from professional football.

International career[edit]

Astafjevs debuted for Latvia at the age of 21 on 26 August 1992, against then-European champions Denmark in qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. From that time he was a vital player in the national team, playing there for 18 years. Astafjevs scored his first international goal on 2 July 1993 on his 14th cap, a friendly 2–0 win over Estonia.[6]

In 1999, after the retirement of Vladimirs Babičevs, Astafjevs became the captain of the team. His first match as captain was his 58th in total, against Greece on 31 March in qualification for Euro 2000. On 31 March 2004, he became the first ever Latvian player to play 100 internationals, as they beat Slovenia in an away friendly. As the team's captain, he participated in the Euro 2004 championship in Portugal, playing in all three of Latvia's games. His last international appearance was a friendly match against China on 17 November 2010. There was a special ceremony after the game to honour him. After his retirement, defender Kaspars Gorkšs was elected to be the next captain of the team.[7]


On 14 October 2009, in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Moldova, Astafjevs equalled the European record for the most matches in a national team; Astafjevs went level with the then-record holder Estonian Martin Reim on 157 caps.[8] On 15 November 2009, in a friendly match against Honduras, Astafjevs set a new European record with 158 caps. His European record of 167 caps was matched by Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon in June 2016 and November 2016 respectively, and was later broken in March 2017 by Buffon.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

After his retirement from professional football, Astafjevs accepted an offer to become the assistant manager of Skonto Riga.[9] At the start of 2012 he was appointed as the manager of Skonto-2, but was later succeeded by Tamaz Pertia.[10] At the start of 2013 he was selected to be the assistant manager of Latvia national under-21 football team, coached by his former club and international team-mate Marians Pahars.[11] On 11 July 2013, Pahars became the manager of Latvia national football team[12] and chose Astafjevs to be one of his assistants.[13] On 4 June 2014, Astafjevs became the manager of FK Jelgava.[14] In April 2018 Astafjevs left the assistant manager's position of the Latvia national team, following the sacking of head coach Aleksandrs Starkovs.

In January 2019, Astafjevs was appointed as the new coach of the Pafos FC academy, taking charge of the U17 and U19 age groups.[15] In 2020, he returned to Latvia as the head coach of the Latvia U17 team as well as the assistant head coach of FK Auda.[16] In 2021, he again departed Latvia to return to Cyprus as assistant manager of Aris Limassol.[17]





See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vitalijs Astafjevs - Century International Appearances". Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  2. ^ a b Mārtiņš Lācis, «Apollo». "Latvija zaudē Hondurasai, Astafjevam Eiropas rekords". Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  3. ^[permanent dead link]
  4. ^[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Lapa īslaicīgi nav pieejama".
  6. ^ "Vitālijs Astafjevs - national football team player".
  7. ^ "Izlases kapteinis būs Gorkšs". 2 September 2010.
  8. ^ " mobilā versija - Sports: Astafjevs atkārto Eiropas rekordu aizvadītajās spēlēs valstsvienībā". Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Astafjevs būs Starkova palīgs, par karjeras beigām vēl nav izlēmis".
  10. ^ "Official Skonto FC Website".
  11. ^ "Riherts un Astafjevs kļuvuši par Pahara asistentiem Latvijas U-21 izlasē". 3 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Starkovs atkāpjas, Pahars kļūst par izlases galveno treneri". 11 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Pahars par palīgiem piesaista Astafjevu un Rihertu; izlases kandidātos iekļauj Koliņko, Laizānu un trīs potenciālos debitantus".
  14. ^ "Eiropas rekordists Astafjevs kļūst par FK Jelgava galveno treneri ::". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Ανακοίνωσε προπονητή η Πάφος FC" [PAFOS FC APPOINTS VITALIJ ASTAFJEVS AS A NEW COACH OF ACADEMY] (in Greek). Athlitika Press. 17 January 2019. Retrieved 27 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Latvijas futbola izlases rekordists Vitālijs Astafjevs joprojām spēlē par "otro bumbu"" [Latvian football national team record holder Vitalijs Astafjevs still plays for the "second ball"]. Sports TV Net. 22 August 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2022.
  17. ^ "Letônia na Euro 2004: da surpresa nas eliminatórias à aposentadoria dos protagonistas" [Latvia at Euro 2004: from the surprise in the qualifiers to the retirement of the protagonists] (in Portuguese). Ultima Divisao. 31 May 2022. Retrieved 27 September 2022.

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