Ex-World Cup star Afolabi to hang boots

Ex-World Cup star Afolabi to hang boots
Rabiu Afolabi is mulling calling time on a 17-year career

by Samm Audu

Wednesday Jul 09, 2014. 13:41

Rabiu Afolabi, who played for Nigeria at two World Cups, has revealed to AfricanFootball.com he is seriously considering hanging his boots this summer.

The former Monaco and Sochaux defender, 34, also disclosed he plans to become a scout based in Europe should he finally quit after more than 17 years playing at the top.

 The full Interview:

AFRICANFOOTBALL.COM: Give us an insight to your career, ‘Robo Cop’.

RABIU AFOLABI: My career spanned NEPA FC Osogbo, Standard Liege (Belgium), SSC Napoli (Italy), Austria Vienna, Sochaux (France), Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) and more recently FC Monaco.

What were your greatest assets as a player?

My powerful legs and my height. I also have the ability to read the game very well and ensure good coordination of all the departments.

What has inspired you in life?

I'm inspired by positive people, people who started from scratch and made their way up and graciously put smile on the faces of others.

You had played in several European clubs, which of these teams would you say you enjoyed playing for the most?

I enjoyed almost all of them as I made some friends and lost some along the way, but I have a soft spot for Standard Liege.  This was where I started to learn my way through and where I started my career as a professional footballer.

It will also interest you to know that it was also significant in the sense that it's where I met my wife too.

You have also played in France. What was the experience like there?

As I stated earlier, my career started in Belgium and so I fell in love with their style of play.

In France, you must be technically sound, mentally and physically ready for you to excel. Besides, I made a lot of friends there. It is like my second home.

When you started your professional career in Europe, many Nigerian players were in high demand in Europe and why has this stopped in recent times?

Nigeria have produced a golden generation of players notably "USA 94 Fifa World Cup and Atlanta Olympic 96 Gold medalists respectively" and these reputations last for years. Players of that generation were more matured before they moved overseas.

Today, it is totally different. Many were not really tested before they moved out and a lot put money first before football, but the fact is every European clubs have their own football academy, where they produce and monitor their lads until maturity.

Having played two World Cups for Nigeria, will you say you are fulfilled as a footballer?

It's a dream for every football player, either professional or amateur, to experience the World Cup in their career. It is the highest competition that exists in football game. I did achieve my childhood dream by being amongst. For this unique achievement in my career, I’m most grateful to God.

What was your memorable moment at the two World Cups you played?

Lining up among the top players and walking shoulder to shoulder through the stadium tunnel, this does not happen at club level.

Do you keep good memories of the 2010 World Cup, the first to be held on the African continent?

It was a dream to have featured at this event. If Korea 2002 was a dream come true, then South Africa 2010 was a great moment in my career. I am very proud to be part of the first generation of Africans to have experienced this, the unimpressive performance of Nigeria notwithstanding.

When are you going to finally quit the game?

I have to see after this summer, if I could carry on.

What do you plan to do after you quit?

I'm on the verge of a transition now and I have obtained a certificate in football management and scouting, the aim is focusing on recruitment of talented players, managing their careers and keeping them on a right track.

Any regrets playing for Nigeria?

It was always a joy to represent my country even when there were lots of issues between the squad and the federation, but it was a source of pride putting on the green-white-green.

What is your greatest moment as a footballer?

When we won French Cup against Olympique Marseille in 2007.

And your worst moment?

My worst moment was the first 45 minutes at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa against South Korea, where I was deployed to play at left full back, the position I never played in my life. What informed the coach’s decision, I still can’t just fathom it.

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