Mohammed Rafi is a former Indian professional footballer. Rafi predominantly played as a centre-forward or striker during his career and had the quality to be used anywhere in the forward line. He was renowned for his aerial abilities and produced some of the best goals in the I-League and the Indian Super League. Rafi’s nickname ‘Head Master’ is well-suited for the veteran striker, who possesses exceptional aerial abilities. Indian Super League Chennaiyin FC – Facebook Page
Mohammed Rafi Madambillath Soccerway was born on Monday, 24 May 1982 (age 41 years; as of 2023) in Trikaripur, Kasargod. He completed his schooling at the Government Vocational Higher Secondary School (GVHSS) in Thrikaripur, Kerala. He then attended the University of Calicut. When Rafi was 14 years old, he attended a football trial match held at his school which made him fall in love with the game. According to Rafi, Ramakrishnan Master and Najeeb Sir are the persons who introduced him to professional football. Ramakrishnan Master was his school team coach, who noticed his ability and talent and encouraged him to participate in the football trials, while Najeeb was the head coach of the SBT club, who shaped him into a professional footballer. This was the beginning of Rafi’s journey as a professional footballer. Rafi worked hard and came through the State Bank of Travancore football club. He made headlines after scoring four goals for the State Bank of Travancore in the National Football League in 2004. His last appearance as a professional footballer was in the Indian Super League (ISL) in which he played for the Kerala Blasters.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Mohammed Rafi belongs to a Muslim family in Trikaripur, Kasargod, Kerala.
Parents & Siblings
Mohammed Rafi’s father’s name is K. K. P. Abdulla and his mother’s name is Zubaidah.
He has a sister and two brothers. His younger twin brothers Mohammed Shafi, and Mohammed Rasi, followed in Mohammed Rafi’s footsteps and became professional football players. Rasi used to play for KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board); Shafi followed Rafi’s path and played for the State Bank of Travancore football club (SBT).
Wife & Children
He got married to Shifa Rafi on 2 June 2013. They have a son, Hamdan and a daughter, Hadimolu.
His journey as a professional footballer started through the youth ranks of the State Bank of Travancore football club (SBT). Rafi then established himself as one of the best Indian footballers to have played in the National football league and the I-League. His professional football career as a player lasted more than 18 years, making his debut with the State Bank of Travancore football club and his last appearance for the Cochin-based Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters. He was part of the first-ever season of the Indian Super League and remained in the competition until the 2019-2020 season. He lifted the winning trophy of the Indian Super League twice, playing for Atlético de Kolkata in 2014 and Chennaiyin FC in 2017; he played in three finals of the ISL.
State Bank of Travancore football club
Mohammed Rafi began his career with the State Bank of Travancore football club’s youth ranks. He started his journey with the club and slowly established himself in the first eleven. In the 2004-2005 season, SBT was promoted to the National football league, and Rafi had a good season, drawing praise from all over the country for his goalscoring abilities. The 2005-2006 season saw SBT getting relegated from the National football league, and Mahindra United successfully persuaded Mohammed Rafi to join them at the end of the season.
Rafi joined Mahindra United during the 2006-2007 season after his former club was relegated from the National League. He joined them with a reputation for scoring goals and as a player who was deadly in the final third. Rafi developed his game and emerged as a crucial player for the team after being the difference-maker in vital matches for his club. He established himself as a fan favourite for Mahindra United and had a massive fanbase in Mumbai and back in Kerala. The 2009-2010 season became a personal milestone for Mohammed Rafi as he entered the list of Indian footballers who scored more than ten goals in an I-League season. He scored 14 goals for Mahindra United and was adjudged Mahindra United’s Player of the Year for his phenomenal season. The management of Mahindra United announced in 2010 that the club would be disbanded after the 2009-2010 season. After spending five successful seasons with the club that saw his rise as a core player in the team, it was time for Rafi to switch colours. He expressed sadness about the management’s decision to disband the club after leaving them.
Mohammed Rafi joined the Churchill Brothers in 2010 after enjoying a stellar season with his former club Mahindra United in the 2009-2010 season. Mohammed Rafi and Churchill Brothers became a hot topic in transfer news all over India because of the deal. Many other clubs were trying to sign the Indian forward, but he joined the Churchill Brothers in the 2010-2011 season and continued playing for them until the end of the 2011-2012 season.
Mohammed Rafi returned to Mumbai in the 2012-2013 season with the Mumbai Tigers. The newly founded club promised to be the next big thing, but a week before the 2013-2014 I-League season began, the club pulled out of the competition. All India Football Federation – Official Website
Rafi joined Mumbai FC in the 2013-2014 season. He made his debut on 2 December 2013 in a 3-2 victory against East Bengal FC. He completed his loan transfer from Mumbai FC to Atletico de Kolkata in 2014 to participate in the Indian Super League.
Atletico de Kolkata
In 2014, India witnessed the birth of the Indian Super League. During the initial season of the ISL, Mohammed Rafi played for Atletico de Kolkata. Rafi won the inaugural championship with the Atletico de Kolkata after beating Kerala Blasters in the finals. Rafi left Atletico de Kolkata after the first season of the ISL to join the Kerala Blasters.
He received a hero’s welcome from the Kerala Blasters fans when the transfer of his joining the club was announced. He scored on his debut match for his new club, and they ended up in second place in the 2015-2016 season after losing on penalties against his former club Atletico de Kolkata. In 2016, he became the third Indian to score in an ISL final. He left Kerala Blasters at the end of the 2016 season. He returned to Kerala Blasters in the 2019-2020 season of the Indian Super League. However, a string of injuries limited his appearances, and he had to watch his team play from the sidelines. Mohammed Rafi’s final season as a professional player was also the 2019-2020 season. The veteran striker was released at the end of the season and has not played for any other club since.
Rafi’s magnificent season with the Kerala Blasters attracted the I-League club DSK Shivajians to complete his signing. He played for the Pune-based team for the 2015-2016 season after he finished the Indian Super League with Kerala Blasters.
Rafi joined Chennaiyin FC in the 2017-2018 season of the Indian Super League after playing for the Kerala Blasters. His performances in the first season earned him a contract extension for the following season with the club. In his debut season with Chennaiyin FC, Rafi won his second Indian Super League title. He failed to replicate the form he had in the title-winning season and was released by the club at the end of the 2018-2019 season.
Mohammed Rafi received his first international call after a memorable 2009-2010 I-League campaign. The forward was at the height of his career and got selected to represent his nation. He joined the likes of fellow Keralites such as IM Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri, who represented the Indian national football team. Rafi’s international career was short-lived as he could only represent his nation in a few matches. He made his debut against Thailand in an international friendly game on 04-09-2010, and all of his appearances for the Indian national football team took place between 2010 and 2011.
Mohammed Rafi was heavily trolled by Brazil fans and Neymar fans when the former Indian international commented on Neymar Jr for overacting whenever an opponent fouls him. He was commentating Brazil versus Croatia match during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 along with his friend and Indian international Rino Anto. The story went viral, and the Brazil football team supporters from Kerala and Neymar fans became infuriated and voiced their dislike. He later apologised and insisted that he did not mean to insult the Brazilian, and it was a friendly banter between him and Rino Anto.
He owns a Toyota Innova Crysta and an Audi Q5.
- In his 51 appearances in the Indian Super League, Rafi never received any card. Indian Super League – Official Website
- In 2010, he was adjudged Mahindra United Player of the Season.
- He scored 14 goals in the 2009-2010 season of the I-League, a record for an Indian player.
- He supported Argentina in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and wanted Lionel Messi to win the World Cup.
- Mohammed Rafi played in the following jersey numbers as a professional footballer; 9, 11, 12, 14, 33, and 20. Since the 2014/2015 season, he played in jersey number 20 till he retired.
- He was announced as part of the regional commentary panel for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 by ViaCom18 for Indian audiences. He was joined by his former teammates like Rino Anto and Jo Paul Ancheri.
- In an interview, he revealed the name of his favourite football player, Lionel Messi.
- Mohammed Rafi is the director of Al Amaan Build Mart Private Limited. The company was inaugurated on 18 May 2017. It is based in Eripuram, Pazhayangadi, Kannur, Kerala.
- He follows a non-vegetarian diet.