Seydou Keita: The Malian Marvel Of Football

Seydou Keita: The Malian Marvel Of Football

Seydou Keita is one of the greatest footballers to come out of the North African country of Mali. Seydou Keita achieved a lot of success in French Ligue 1 with RC Lens and in Spanish La Liga with FC Barcelona. In this post, we will find out more about Seydou Keita. Let’s get started.

Seydou Keita: All You Need To Know

When was Seydou Keita born?

Seydou Keita was born on January 16, 1980, in Bamako. He is the nephew of famous Malian footballer Salif Keita.

Seydou Keita: Professional Career

Olympique Marseille

Trained at the Salif Keita Center, he joined the Marseille reserve team, after playing in the Under-20 World Cup in Nigeria in 1999 where he received the title of the best player in the competition, beating future legends Ronaldinho and Frank Lampard.

He played for three seasons in the CFA, where he took part in 43 games and scored 3 goals, and rubbed shoulders with future Ligue 1 players such as Benjamin Gavanon and Jacques Abardonado. During the 1999-2000 season, he received a few minutes of playtime in some matches with the first team, the first being Marseille – Troyes on September 19, 1999, a match during which he replaced Christophe Dugarry in the 69th minute of play.

In effect, he participated five days before his first league match in the match between Marseille and SK Sturm Graz at the Vélodrome (2-0 victory), replacing striker Fabrizio Ravanelli in the 88th minute. He was also on the field during the double confrontation against Dinamo Zagreb, and finally against Feyenoord Rotterdam on March 22, 2000.


Not a priority on the strategy of the Marseille coach at the time, Abel Braga, Seydou Keita wanted to get more playing time. He was therefore loaned to Lorient, a Ligue 2 club, where he participated fully in the Breton epic which brought the club back to Ligue 1. Indeed, Seydou Keita took part in all the league matches and in their entirety, apart from the first day. Thanks to his good performances, he even appeared in the best team of the L2 season. The following year, the Malian played less due to repeated injuries. He reappeared in the second half of the year, and still won the Coupe de France in May 2002, during which he participated in the last two matches in their entirety, and while his team was relegated to Ligue 2.

RC Lens

It was then that RC Lens, which finished second in Ligue 1 and was looking to strengthen itself with a view to the Champions League, asked to obtain a loan from the Ligue 2 club. The Seydou Keita loan materialized a year later via permanent transfer.

Supported by his friend Adama Coulibaly, Seydou was slow to confirm, no doubt because of the lack of playing time granted by the coach at the time, Joël Muller. But the following seasons, and after the arrival at the club of Francis Gillot and the departures of Jérôme Leroy and Alou Diarra, Seydou Keita took on a major role in the Lensois midfield, and thus became the fulcrum of the team. And it was during the 2006/2007 season that Seydou best showcased his abilities, which earned him a spot among the top scorers in the championship with 11 goals scored (which is a  huge number for a defensive midfielder).


While he had extended his contract at Racing Club de Lens, Gervais Martel kept his word by letting him leave in the summer of 2007. He joined Sevilla FC, then 17th in the Spanish league, and won nothing with this club.

During the 1st match with his new club, he participated only ten minutes before the match and was sent off in stoppage time. He also played the first leg of the 3rd preliminary round of the Champions League, where he entered with only five minutes left to play. He never won his place as a starter in the squad, participating in fifteen games out of 38 in the league. Despite the decline in form of his team and the departure of coach Juande Ramos, Seydou Keita continued his efforts and managed to score three league goals and one in the Champions League, where he qualified for the quarter finals for the first time in his career. After the season concluded,  Seydou Keita was firmly on the radar for clubs like Barcelona. But the Malian indicated at that time that he wanted to stay at the club to finally win his starting position.

FC Barcelona

On May 26, 2008, he signed a 4-year contract with FC Barcelona for a transfer estimated at 14 million euros. His release clause was set at 90 million euros. He thus became the first Malian footballer to wear the colors of FC Barcelona.

On August 13, he made his debut with his new team, against Wisła Krakow in the Champions League. On the 31st, he played his first La Liga game with Barcelona, ​​against Numancia. Along with his Sevilla teammate Daniel Alves, Seydou Keita played most of the matches in the league. Since November, he had asserted himself more and more on the pitch and was beginning to become decisive on the offensive level (equalizer against Getafe, Villarreal, and Bayern Munich).

On May 27, 2009, in Rome, Seydou Keita, returned during the game, won the Champions League with FC Barcelona against Manchester United (2-0) after having already won the La Liga and the Spanish Cup a few days before. On October 25, 2009, he scored a hat-trick in FC Barcelona’s victory over Real Zaragoza (6-1). This was the first hat trick of his career. On December 19, 2009, Seydou Keita won the Club World Cup with Barcelona, ​​the sixth title of an exceptional year.

In August 2010, after winning the Spanish championship for the second time, he renewed his contract until 2014. He won La Liga for the third consecutive year and scored the goal for Barcelona in the draw against Levante which formalized this title.

On May 28, 2011, at Wembley, Seydou Keita won his second Champions League with FC Barcelona. In 2011, he won five titles with FC Barcelona including La Liga and the Club World Cup.

AS Roma

After finishing his contract with FC Barcelona, Seydou Keita signed with the Italian Serie A side AS Roma.

After coming into play against Fiorentina and then Empoli for 2-0 and 0-1 victories, the Malian secured a starting place in a team that had won five consecutive victories in Serie A as well as another victory and a draw in the Champions League. His coach, Rudi Garcia even made him his captain during the victorious trip to Parma FC (1-2). Unstoppable in defensive midfield in front of the defense, the Malian scored his first goal in the Roman jersey during the 11th game of Serie A against Torino for a 3-0 victory. On November 25th, 2014, against CSKA Moscow, Seydou Keita played his 100th match in the European Cup. Unfortunately, AS Roma was eliminated from the Champions League after finishing third in the group behind Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Relegated to the Europa League, AS Roma reached the quarter-finals of the competition.

The club from the Italian capital ended the season in second place in the Serie A and ensured an automatic berth in the Champions League group stage.

After two seasons with AS Roma, Seydou Keita left the club and finished his career with the Qatari club El Jaish FC.

National team

With the Malian team, Seydou Keita appeared in many matches. Since 2002, he has appeared regularly on African pitches, even taking the captain’s armband in the absence of Mahamadou Diarra. Seydou Keita played in five African Cup of Nations, in 2002 (6 matches, 1 goal), 2004 (4 matches), 2008 (3 matches), 2010 (3 matches, 3 goals), and 2012 (6 matches, 1 goal).

In the quarter-finals of the CAN 2012 against Gabon, the organizing country, which started the competition very well, Mali went to the penalty shootout. During the shootout, Seydou Keita scored the last penalty which qualified Mali for the semi-finals against powerhouse Ivory Coast.

Seydou Keita: Career Achievements

Seydou Keita won his first title with FC Lorient in the Coupe de France in 2002. He was a finalist in the Coupe de la Ligue in 2002 and Runners Up in Division 2 in 2001. He also won the Intertoto Cup in 2005 with RC Lens.

In Spain, playing for Sevilla FC, he won the Spanish Super Cup in 2007 but lost in the final of the 2007 UEFA Super Cup.

After being transferred to FC Barcelona, ​​he won the Champions League twice in 2009 and 2011. He also won the UEFA Super Cup twice in 2009 and 2011 and two Club World Cups in 2009 and 2011.

In 2009, Seydou Keita won an unprecedented six titles with FC Barcelona: Champions League, Spanish championship, King’s Cup, European Supercup, Spanish Supercup, and Club World Cup. Seydou Keita is currently the most successful Malian footballer with more than 16 titles. He was voted best player at the Under-20 World Cup in 1999 and was African Bronze Boot in 2007. In the quarter-finals of the 2012 African Cup, he scored the penalty that sent the eagles Mali in the semi-final against Ivory Coast.

  • 1999 World Cup Under-20 Best Player
  • Member of the Ligue 1 team of the season in the 2006–07 season
  • Second best player of the 2006-2007 Ligue 1 season
  • African Bronze Boot 2007 (designating the 3 best African footballers playing in Europe )
  • Best player in the first phase of the 2007-2008 La Liga season
  • Member of the CAN 2012 team
  • Member of the CAN 2013 team

Who is Seydou Keita married to?

Seydou Keita is married to Zoubida Johnson, a woman of Cape Verdean origin. With her, he has two children Mohamed Ikhlas and Hanane Yousra. Seydou Keita lives with his family in Lafiabougou, a district of Bamako, the capital of Mali.

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