Youssef Safri

Youssef Safri is a Moroccan defensive midfielder who was born in Casablanca on 3rd January 1977. Safri began his career with Raja Casablanca, before leaving for second tier English side Coventry City on 24th August 2001. He made his debut on 8th September 2001 in a 1-0 home loss to Grimsby, Gordon Strachan's last game as Sky Blues manager. Despite Coventry underperforming, Safri generally played well for the club in his three year spell. Safri was one of the best passers of the ball outside the top flight.

In the summer of 2004 Safri signed for newly promoted Premiership side Norwich City. He featured in less than half of The Canaries matches in 2004/05, but scored one of the goals of the season on 20th April 2005 in a 2-1 win over Newcastle. Safri could do nothing to stop Norwich from being relegated however, so the Moroccan was back playing in the second tier again by 2005/06. Over the next two seasons Safri established himself as a firm favourite with the Carrow Road crowd. His tackling ability was top notch and he offered a great threat at set pieces with his expert delivery from corner kicks. The only thing that sometimes let Safri down was his poor disciplinary record. He picked up far too many red and yellow cards from reckless challenges. Safri's final appearance for Norwich came on 9th April 2007 against West Brom. He had spent that later part of the 2006/07 season on the bench after a fall out with manager Peter Grant.

On 2nd August 2007 Safri signed for Southampton for a fee of £250,000. He made his debut on 11th August 2007 in a 4-1 home loss against Crystal Palace. His second league appearance came at his former club Norwich a week later, where he received a frosty reception from the Carrow Road crowd who used to chant his name. Safri was one of Saints better players in 2007/08 and generally performed well. Ill discipline was still proving a problem though. He was sent off twice for George Burley's side in his first season at St Marys, at Bristol City on October 24th and against QPR on 9th February. He played his final game for the club on 4th May 2008 against Sheffield United.

On 7th July 2008 Safri made the surprise move to the Gulf to join Qatar Sports Club for a fee of around £300,000. Safri was a much bigger threat going forward for the Doha club than he had been during his time in England. He scored a number of key goals during his spell in Qatar, and helped the club win the Qatar Crown Prince Cup in 2009.

Safri was also a regular for Morocco for ten years after winning his first international cap in 2000. He won 76 caps for his country, scoring 8 goals. Safri represented his home nation in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and in the 2004 African Nations Cup, where he helped Morocco reach the final of the competition. He scored a penalty in 'The Lions of the Atlas' final group game against South Africa on February 4th