Rabiu Afolabi

Rabiu Afolabi (born 18 April 1980), is a Nigerian retired professional footballer, who played as a centre-back.

Rabiu Afolabi
Personal information
Full name Rabiu Afolabi
Date of birth (1980-04-18) 18 April 1980
Place of birth Osogbo, Nigeria
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Centre-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997 NEPA Lagos
1997–2003 Standard Liège 89 (2)
2000–2001Napoli (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


Born in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, Afolabi started his football career at NEPA Lagos.

Standard Liège and Napoli loan

Afolabi soon left his home country by moving to Belgium to Standard Liège after impressing at the 1997 Meridian Cup. Once he made a move to Belgium, Afolabi immediately fell in love with the style of play.[1] In the 1997–98 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 9th place in the table. In the next season he played in 26 league games, scored a goal and with Liège finishing in sixth place in the league. Standard has also played in the final of Cup of Belgium, losing 1–3 to Lierse S.K. In the 1999–2000 season, Standard finished fifth place; Afolabi made 24 appearances scoring 1 goal.

Having become a regular player at Standard Liège, Afolabi signed for Italian Serie A side Napoli on loan ahead of the 2000–01 season. At Napoli, he failed to break into the first team, in part due to injuries. When fit, he played in the club's reserves.

After half a season in Italy, he returned to Liege. After the 2001–02 season he was named the best defender in Belgium, Standard finished fifth. The next season was not as successful: Afolabi played only 14 league matches, Standard completed the season in the 7th position.

Austria Wien

In 2003, Afolabi decided to move to an Austrian club Austria Wien on a free transfer.[2] He made his debut for the club in the Austrian Supercup, which Wien won 2–1 against FC Kärnten. Five days, he made his league debut for the club, again versus FC Kärnten, in a 2–1 loss. In his first season, Afolabi played a total of 33 matches.

In summer 2004 interest for was reported from Marseille, as well as other clubs. He played in 27 league games in the 2004–05 season, all from the first until the last minute, and scored one goal in a 3–0 win away match against FC Wacker Tirol. Austria finished third place, just behind rival Rapid Wien and Grazer AK.

The following season, Afolabi played in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup tournament with Austria Wien, until the club was elimination by Italian side Parma. Like last season, the club also won the Austrian Supercup.


After the 2004–05 season, some Austria Wien players were linked a move away from clubs. Among them was also Afolabi, who joined Sochaux for a €2 million transfer fee. In his Ligue 1 debut on 13 August 2005 he came on as a substitute for youngster Jérémy Ménez. Sochaux won the away match against Nice 2–1 but Afolabi was sent off in the 87th minute of the match. Towards the end of the season, Afolabi scored his first goal, on 6 May 2006, in a draw at home to Troyes. The club finished in 15th place.

Afolabi spent four seasons at Sochaux. In his time there, he earned one title, the 2006–07 Coupe de France. He later stated that winning the cup was the greatest moment of his career.[1]

Red Bull Salzburg

After leaving Sochaux at the end of 2008–09 season as a free agent,[3] Afolabi returned to Austria, signing a two-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg[4] having been previously linked with newly promoted Premier League side Burnley.[5] He became a regular starter in central defence. In February 2010, he scored the winning goal away to title rivals SK Rapid Wien which helped keep the Red Bulls on course for the championship. Eventually, Red Bull Salzburg would win the title.[6]

On 7 November 2010, he made his 100th Austrian Bundesliga match having made 60 appearance for FK Austria Wien and 40 for Red Bull Salzburg). In December, it was reported that Salzburg were looking to transfer Afolabi in the winter transfer window.[7] After his second season in Salzburg, his contract was not renewed.


Following his release from Salzburg, Afolabi was linked with German side Eintracht Frankfurt but on 31 August 2011, he returned to France joining recently relegated Monaco on a free transfer, agreeing to a two-year contract with the club.[8] On 19 September 2011, he scored his debut goal in a 1–0 victory over against Arles-Avignon.[9] Over time, he featured less and less at Monaco and after one year at the club, it was announced he had left the club by mutual consent with one year of his contract remaining.[10]

SønderjyskE and retirement

After eight months without a club, Afolabi went on trial at Danish Superliga club SønderjyskE, with a view of earning a contract.[11] On 13 March 2013, he eventually signed with the club for the rest of the 2012–13 season.[12]

On his debut for SønderjyskE, a match against Silkeborg IF on 28 March 2013, Afolabi helped his team to a 5–0 victory over its bottom-table rivals. He was named as one of the best players on the field. Having played three matches he fractured a rib and was substituted during a match against Midtjylland. Afterwards, it was announced he would be out for between three and four weeks.[13] Following his return, he went on to make five appearances in total helping the club survive relegation and finishing in eighth place. At the end of the season, the club remained keen on keeping him by offering him a new contract.[14] However, Afolabi chose to leave the club after three months there.[15]

After leaving Denmark, he announced his retirement and the intent to pursue a career in football management and scouting, having earned a certificate.[1]

International career

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.

He then captained the Nigerian under-20 team in the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria.

On 17 June 2000, Afolabi made his full international debut for Nigeria in a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Sierra Leone. He was part of the Nigeria squads at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups.

Style of play

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. Offensively, he is dangerous on set pieces.


His name, Afolabi, means "Born into wealth".[16] 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.[17]


  1. "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. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 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. "AS Monaco 1–0 Arles-Avigon". Soccerway. 19 September 2011.
  10. "Monaco : Afolabi a résilié". Mercato.fr. 31 August 2012. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  11. "Rabiu Afolabi Starts Trials With Sonderjyske". All Nigeria Soccer. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  12. "Official: Rabiu Afolabi Joins SonderjyskE". All Nigeria Soccer. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  13. "Keshi's New Boy Injured -Ogu Joins Crocked Nigerian Stars -Afolabi, Obasi Face Long Absences". Sportsday Online. 8 April 2013. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  14. "SønderjyskE forhandler med trio" (in Danish). Bold.dk. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  15. "SønderjyskE overvejer offensiv forstærkning" (in Danish). Tips Bladet. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  16. Meaning of Afolabi in Nigerian.name
  17. "Afolabi helps out Nigerian public schools". MTN Football. 7 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.