|Axel Witsel Quick Info
|6 ft 1¼ in
|Date of Birth
|January 12, 1989
Since he announced his arrival in the 2007-2008 season, Axel Witsel has been considered as one of the finest midfield talents. In his sole season at Benfica, he proved that he could hold the midfield against the tough competitors. When it was suspected that he would be snapped up by a leading European club, he decided to move to Russia as Zenit Saint Petersburg offered him a lucrative contract. When he later left Zenit Saint Petersburg, he was again accused of choosing money over soccer as he decided to move to China. However, he defended his decision by claiming that a contract worth €20m (£17m) a year would secure his family’s future.
Axel Laurent Angel Lambert Witsel
Axel Witsel honed his soccer skills at the youth setup of the Belgian club, Standard Liège.
Professional Soccer Player
- Father – Thierry Witsel
- Mother – Sylvie Witsel
- Siblings – Whitney Witsel (Sister)
Axel Witsel is represented by Paul Stefani.
Defensive Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Central Midfielder
28 – Standard Liège, SL Benfica, Zenit St. Petersburg, Tianjin Quanjian, Borussia Dortmund
6, 10, 16, 20 – Belgium National Team
6 ft 1¼ in or 186 cm
80 kg or 176 lbs
Girlfriend / Spouse
Axel Witsel has dated –
- Rafaella Szabo (2009-Present) – In June 2015, he got married to his girlfriend, Rafaella Szabo, who is of Hungarian and Romanian descent. They had been dating for 6 years by the time they decided to get married. Over the course of their relationship, she has given birth to 2 daughters – Mai Li and Evy.
Race / Ethnicity
He has French-Caribbean (Martiniquais) ancestry on his father’s side and Belgian ancestry on his mother’s side.
Axel Witsel has a personal endorsement deal with Adidas and because of the clauses of the deal, he only wears Adidas footwear for his professional matches.
Best Known For
- Being an integral member of the Belgian national team. He has represented his country at many high profile tournaments including 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2016 UEFA Euro, and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- Having represented some of the established European clubs including Standard Liège, Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, and Zenit Saint Petersburg.
First Soccer Match
In September 2006, Axel Witsel made his professional debut, at the age of 17, with Standard Liège in a match against FC Brussels. He was sent in as Steven Defour’s replacement in the 89th minute.
In September 2014, he made his first appearance for Zenit Saint Petersburg in a Russian Premier League match against Terek Grozny. His side crashed to a 2-0 defeat in the match.
In August 2018, he made his debut for Borussia Dortmund in a DFB-Pokal first round match against SpVgg Greuther Fürth. He was sent in as a second-half substitute and he managed to score an equalizing goal in the stoppage time in his side’s 2-1 win.
In March 2008, he made his first international appearance in Belgium’s friendly match against Morocco. His side crashed to a 4-1 defeat but it was a memorable match for him as he scored his side’s only goal.
- Positional awareness
- Reading of the game
- Physical presence
His discipline has been a problem throughout his career. Because of the physical nature of his game, he ends up picking too many cards.
Axel Witsel Facts
- The 2007-2008 season with Standard Liège proved to be his breakthrough season as he led his side to the Belgian league title. At the end of the season, he was declared Belgian Young Footballer of the Year.
- In August 2009, he was caught in a huge controversy as his poor tackle broke Marcin Wasilewski’s leg in a league match against Anderlecht. He had stamped on Wasilewski’s ankle and was issued a red card. However, he protested the red card by claiming it was a mere accident.
- After enduring a barrage of criticism from experts and fans for his despicable tackle, he publicly apologized. He was also handed an 8-match ban by the Belgian Football Association.
- In July 2011, he joined SL Benfica in a 5-year deal. The Portuguese club immediately moved to protect their new asset by inserting a €40 million buyout clause in his contract.
- In April 2012, Axel was selected as the Man of the Match in the Taça da Liga final match. He delivered a dominating performance in the heart of the midfield against Gil Vicente.
- In recognition of his sterling performances for Benfica in the 2011-12 season, he was included in O Jogo Team of the Year.
- In September 2012, Zenit Saint Petersburg paid €40 million to Benfica to acquire Witsel. He scored his first 2 goals for the Russian club in November 2012, in a 4-2 demolition of Spartak Moscow.
- During his 5 seasons stint with Zenit Saint Petersburg, he managed to win Russian Football Premier League, Russian Cup, and Russian Super Cup.
- While Axel was courted by leading European clubs such as Chelsea and Napoli, he decided to seal a surprise move to Tianjin Quanjian in January 2017. He was criticized by the fans as well as experts for making a move solely for money.
- In August 2018, it was announced that Witsel had returned to Europe with a move to Borussia Dortmund. He signed a 4-year deal with the German club.
- In August 2018, he scored his first Bundesliga goal with an overhead kick in his side’s 4-1 romp over RB Leipzig. It was also his first Bundesliga appearance.
- He has been appointed as an ambassador by Damien Action, which is a Belgian non-profit foundation that aids in the fight against leprosy, tuberculosis, and leishmaniasis. The organization provides treatment to over 250,000 individuals every year.
- Visit his official website @ axelwitsel28.com.
- Follow Axel Witsel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Featured Image by Кирилл Венедиктов / soccer.ru / CC BY-SA 3.0