Midfielder Rio Mavuba, a Ligue 1 Conforama legend, has announced that he is calling a halt to his professional career at age 34 after winning a host of titles in a glittering career.
After playing 426 Ligue 1 Conforama matches between his debut in January 2004 and his final appearance in May 2017, Rio Mavuba has announced his retirement a few days after the mutual dissolution of his contract with Sparta Prague. "My career has ended but my life has not," the Frenchman announced while also thanking his teachers, coaches, teammates family and fans.
At 34 years of age, Rio Mavuba leaves behind a well stocked trophy cabinet and the image of a true leader. A pure product of the Bordeaux youth academy, which he joined at age seven, Mavuba went on to captain his teams at every youth level. Bordeaux paid tribute to him on their Twitter account, notably writing, "We watched you grow up, become a starter and then an international. We saw you lift trophies and play in a World Cup… a big Bravo for your superb career!"
2011 double with LOSC
In his 13-year career, the defensive midfielder won many titles. First of all with the France U21s, whom he captain to victory in the Toulon tournament in 2004, earning the Player of the Tournament accolade. In club football, Mavuba's first trophy was the 2007 Coupe de la Ligue, with Bordeaux, one season after finishing second in Ligue 1 Conforama. While he only went close to winning the league title with Bordeaux, he got the job done five years later with LOSC, when he led his side to a superb league-and-Coupe de France double. In that 2010-11 season, Mavuba was coach Rudi Garcia's go-to man, starting all 38 league fixtures. He played his last final with the northern club in 2016, losing out to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final at the Stade de France.
After going 419 Ligue 1 Conforama matches without a red card, Mavuba saw his run come to an end when he received a second yellow card in injury time against Bordeaux in February 2017. Just as Bordeaux did, LOSC - his second and final French club - paid homage to the former club captain: "This shirt - he wore it, he fought for it and he honoured it for nine wonderful years. For all that and all the rest, we say thank you."
Frist Ligue 1 Conforama match… first goal
Although he wasn't known for his qualities as a finisher (he scored a total of six Ligue 1 Conforama goals in his career), Rio Mavuba nonetheless scored his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal in his very first appearance, after 52 minutes against Montpellier in January 2004 (1-2). It was also against La Paillade that Mavuba made his 400th Ligue 1 Conforama appearance, in March 2016.
At the international level, Mavuba played just over 50 European matches (12 with Bordeaux, five with Villarreal, 40 with Lille and one with Sparta). With Les Bleus, Didier Deschamps put his faith in Mavuba called him up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup (quarter-finals) 40 years after his father, Ricky Mavuba had turned out for Zaire, allowing Rio to realise his 'biggest dream'. He earned 13 caps for France.