Menace Intern Jordan Guy and special guest commentator Lyle Hunt bring you the final Player Spotlight of the 2013 season. The spotlight finale features Menace defensive-midfielder Fatai Alabi. Posted July 18, 2013.
For Fatai Alabi, the journey to find a team and a future has taken him places he never expected.
One place Alabi failed to see coming was Des Moines.
“I like it here; it’s grown on me over the summer,” said Alabi. “The weather and the heat here are nice.”
The defensive-midfielder’s soccer days started when he was only five years old, playing pick-up games in the streets and fields of his native Nigeria.
When Alabi was 12 his family took the 6,500 mile trek to Houston in search of better opportunities and an improved life style in the United States. Alabi continued his soccer career with multiple local clubs, before leaving Texas behind for the green pitch at Wallace State Community College.
The freshmen found success with the Lions, netting five goals, including three game winners, and 11 assists during his only season in Hanceville, Ala.
Making the switch to an NCAA Division-I school during the summer of 2011, Alabi joined head coach Mike Getman at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Competing for playing time all year, the transfer played in four games, starting three.
“Coach Getman told me about Coach Jeffries,” said Alabi. “It was just too good an opportunity to pass up.”
After arriving two games into the season, Alabi played off the bench in his first two games back. Getting a chance during a trip to Thunder Bay, Alabi proved himself by going the full 90 minutes in his first start of the year. Alabi has started in six of eight games since and has netted a pair of goals.
But for Alabi, getting the job done is more important than his personal stat line.
“My role on the team is to do my job,” Alabi said. “I play solid defense and distribute to the attackers.”
For the defensive-minded midfielder, the idea of stopping others rather than scoring himself is just fine.
“I like playing defense; I get to kick people,” said Alabi with a laugh. “I get to do all the dirty work that needs to get done.”
While the season isn’t over, Alabi knows it’s coming to an end and has many wonderful memories with the club.
“I loved the Open Cup game against Sporting (Kansas City). It was a great experience for everyone on the team.”
Alabi speaks of the Menace’s trip to the 200 million dollar Sporting Park for the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 28. Des Moines fell to Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City 2-0 in front of an announced crowd of 15,621 fans.
Alabi plans to return to Birmingham to earn his bachelor’s degree in exercise science and will to continue pushing himself to go professional.
Name: Fatai Alabi
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Classification and Degree: Senior in exercise-science
Pre-game Ritual: Dress right foot then left, listen to MI
Favorite Goal-scoring Celebration: Pointing at crowd
Favorite Movie: Training Day
Favorite Food: Fufu
Favorite Player: Thierry Henry