Ali Benarbia (Arabic: علي بن عربية; born 8 October 1968) is a retired Algerian footballer who played as a midfielder. As of 2009, he is currently a consultant and presenter for Al-Jazeera Sports in Doha.
|Full name||Ali Benarbia|
|Date of birth||8 October 1968|
|Place of birth||Oran, Algeria|
|Height||1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Ali Benarbia was born in Oran, Algeria, with his family originating from Sidi Bel Abbès. When he was only a year old, the family settled in south of France. It was not long before the young Ali started kicking a ball around on the streets.
Benarbia grabbed the attention of district side ROC Narbonne at only 10 years and seven years later he signed for FC Martigues. Encouraged by his father, Benarbia wanted to have a professional career in the game but knew that it would only come through hard-work. Playing in the youth team, Benarbia was quickly promoted to the first team in 1987 and went on to help the club into the French first division after winning the second division title in 1993. He was part of the side that was promoted to Ligue 1 in 1993, operating as a midfielder.
After Martigues were relegated in 1995, Benarbia was signed by AS Monaco and two seasons later he helped the club to a league title. In season 1997–98, he was named Player of the Year in the France but still no call came from the French coach. Bénarbia had turned down several offers to play for his home country of Algeria, as he had always hoped to play for France. Benarbia also played in Jean Tigana's talented Monaco side which famously put Manchester United out of the Champions League in 1998 on away goals after a 1–1 draw at Old Trafford.
After three seasons with AS Monaco, Benarbia moved to Bordeaux for £1m and helped the club, where Zinedine Zidane made his name to the league title. With Benarbia playing the best football of his career, Paris Saint-Germain tabled an offer of £2m for the Algerian player only a month before the end of the season, the club accepted but the deal was kept quiet until Bordeaux had clinched the title.
Benarbia was named captain of the PSG side, which featured Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha and later Nicolas Anelka. The team failed to win anything, though they did manage to qualify for the second round of the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League, finishing last in their group with Deportivo de La Coruña, Galatasaray S.K. and A.C. Milan.
Benarbia left France in 2001 and was signed on a free transfer by Manchester City, whose manager Kevin Keegan was familiar with him from when he scored two goals for Monaco against Keegan's Newcastle United. He became a firm favourite amongst the supporters as City won the First Division and promotion back to the Premier League, winning the club's player of the year award and being named in the select side for the Division. He was made captain the following season, although he found the pace of the Premier League harder and was much less influential in his second season. He played his final game in a City shirt in 2003 against FC Barcelona in a game to mark the opening of the City of Manchester Stadium, before announcing his retirement.
Only five days after this announcement, on 27 July 2003, Benarbia signed up to play for Al-Rayyan of Qatar. After two years with the club, he moved on to play for Nadi Qatar before announcing his retirement a year later.
Benarbia was first approached by the Algerian Football Federation in 1986. In a rare interview with French website LeButeur published in 2009, Benarbia said that he never refused to play for Algeria. He stated that he was unhappy with the lack of professionalism within the national team and wanted the Federation to provide assurances for professional footballers' safety. During the time of Benarbia's playing career, Algeria struggled with political situations such as the 1986 oil price collapse, Black October and the Algerian Civil War.
He made his début in a 2002 African Cup of Nations Group 4 qualifying game against Burkina Faso in September 2000. He represented Algeria a total of seven times, participating in; three World Cup qualifying games, two Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifiers and two friendlies.
- Ali Benarbia – FIFA competition record
- "Monaco and bust for sorry United". The Independent. 19 March 1998. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- Clayton, David (2002). Everything under the blue moon: the complete book of Manchester City FC – and more!. Edinburgh: Mainstream publishing. ISBN 1-84018-687-9. p29
- Ali Benarbia Chooses Nadi Qatar Magharebia.com, 13 July 2005
- "Ali Benarbia : "Je n'ai pas le sentiment d'avoir joué pour l'équipe d'Algérie !"" (in French). LeButeur. 26 November 2009. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "2000 Matches". rsssf.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013.