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Peter Rufai Nigeria footballer

Peter Rufai Nigeria footballer

PETER RUFAI

Peter Rufai (born 24 August 1963) is a Nigerian retired footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He competed professionally in Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, in a senior career that lasted twenty years. Rufai represented Nigeria in two World Cups and as many Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

CLUB CAREER

Born in Lagos, Rufai started his career in his country, playing with Stationery Stores F.C. and Femo Scorpions. In 1986 he moved to Benin, with AS Dragons FC de l’Ouémé.

At a more professional level Rufai spent six years in Belgium, with K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen and K.S.K. Beveren, although he appeared sparingly. In the 1993–94 season he played 12 matches for Dutch neighbours Go Ahead Eagles, which finished 12th in the Eredivisie.

In 1994, Rufai started a Portuguese adventure with S.C. Farense. In his first year, he was instrumental as the Algarve side only conceded 38 goals in 34 matches, qualifying to the UEFA Cup for the first time ever. His solid performances earned him a transfer to La Liga, but he struggled to start for lowly Hércules CF during his stay, in an eventual relegation.

However, Rufai signed with established Deportivo de La Coruña the ensuing summer, backing up another African, Jacques Songo’o, for two seasons – this included keeping a clean sheet in a January 1998 home win against CD Tenerife (1–0), as the Cameroonian was suspended. He then returned to Portugal for one final year, with modest Gil Vicente FC, also being second-choice.

Rufai returned to Spain in 2003, settling in the country and opening a goalkeeper’s school.

INTERNATIONAL CAREER

Rufai earned 65 caps for Nigeria, and represented the nation at two FIFA World Cups, always as starter: 1994 (Nigeria’s first ever appearance, where he also acted as captain) and 1998, also helping the Super Eagles win the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia.

On 24 July 1993, during a CAN qualifier against Ethiopia, Rufai scored his country’s last goal from a penalty kick, in a 6–0 home win.

PERSONAL LIFE

Rufai was the son of a tribal king in the region of Idimu. In early 1998, as his father died, he was allowed by his club (Deportivo) to return to Nigeria to discuss the succession, but turned down the status for himself.

Rufai’s oldest son, Senbaty, played as a midfielder, having tried for Sunshine Stars F.C. in the Nigeria Premier League.

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