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Top facts about Axel Witsel

Sun 11 April 2021 | 9:00

All the interesting little details you want to know about Axel Witsel.

Axel Laurent Angel Lambert Witsel (born 12 January 1989) is a professional footballer from Belgium who plays for Borussia Dortmund, a German club.

He joined the first team as a right-winger during his game for the Belgian national team, and can also play an attacking midfielder, while his natural position is as a central midfielder.

He started his career at Standard Liege's hometown club, making 183 appearances and scoring 42 goals while winning five national trophies. In 2008, he was awarded the Belgian Golden Shoe. After a season with S.L. Benfica in Portugal, he signed a €40 million fee for Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2012.

During his time in Russia, Witsel received four honours, before leaving in January 2017 for Tianjin Quanjian. In August 2018, he returned to Europe with Borussia Dortmund.

In 2008, Witsel made his senior international debut and, on 15 November 2018, achieved his 100th cap for Belgium. He represented the country in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2016 UEFA Euro and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, assisting them in the final tournament in third place.

Top facts about Axel Witsel you need to know

Before getting into the details of

Top facts about Axel Witsel

, let’s have a quick look at some general data about him

Quick Facts

  • Full Name:

     Axel Laurent Angel Lambert Witsel

  • Nicknames:

     chaloupe

  • Date of Birth:

     January 12, 1989

  • Place of Birth:

     Liege, Belgium

  • Age:

     32

  • Nationality:

     Belgian

  • Height:

     1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

  • Weight:

     82 kg

  • Marital Status:

     Married

  • Position:

     Midfielder

  • Current Team:

     Borussia Dortmund

  • Jersey Number:

     28

Wife:

 

Rafaella Szabo Witse

Axel Witsel Early and Family Life

Axel Laurent Angel Lambert Witsel was born on 12 January 1989 to his parents, Sylvie Witsel's mother and Thierry Witsel's father, in the beautiful Belgian city of Liege.

Axel was born into a caring family with a mixed-race heritage, one of the Top facts about Axel Witsel.

His jovial and supportive parents had him at a young age. His mother is Belgian and his father's origins are on the island of Martinique in the French Caribbean. Both of their children were born at a young age.

One of the Top facts about Axel Witsel is that Axel grew up with his one and only little sister, Whitney Witsel.

While they had a Belgian white mother, both children were born inheriting the gene of their father, thus defining them as members of the Belgian Black Ethnicity.

Growing up, Withney and Axel, due to the open lines of communication that both siblings inherited from their parents, a stronger feeling of being loved was formed.

Of course, as a young child, Axel grew up having football at his feet and finding himself only enjoying football as a sport and a pleasure.

He was permitted to play on open pitches by his parents, but another one of the Top facts about Axel Witsel is that his parents never considered their son taking football seriously.

This was because of the limited resources offered at that time by Belgian football. As Axel expresses it:

‘THERE WERE NO TOYS OR GAMES WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, JUST A FOOTBALL. I’M ENTIRELY GRATEFUL FOR EVERYTHING MY DAD DID. HE ALWAYS PUSHED ME. WITHOUT HIM, I WOULDN’T HAVE THIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY THAT I’M ON SO FAR.’

Axel was 15 years old when he decided to stop playing with his friends on neighborhood fields.

He was granted the opportunity to play professional football with Standard Liege thanks to support from the Royal Belgian Football Association.

Axel Witsel Career Buildup

Belgium experienced a new wave of football enthusiasm during the late 1990s, leading to a revolution in the game.

After their national team shamefully crashed out of the 1998 World Cup group tournament, the country with a population of just 11m had a defining moment in 1998.

Bob Browaeys, who coached Belgium's youth teams at all levels, was charged with developing a Sablon blueprint document that would fix the "lack of unified vision on youth" football at the time.

This paper prompted a gathering of over 30 Belgian federation coaches to address the country's drastic shift in football policy.

One of their observations was that the focus on winning was too much and not enough on development.

This led to Belgium's youth football movement. Football clubs were financially strengthened, which directly affected their national scouting network.

This was how Axel got the chance to play for his hometown side, Standard Liege, when scouts picked him up.

Axel Witsel Career Summary

One of the

Top facts about Axel Witsel

is that Axel became a youth club novice at a relatively old age (age 15), unlike many footballers who began their youth career early (between the ages of 6 to 8).

His progress was a meteoric rise and his aspirations to join the club's senior team were not only a passing fancy.

He was the best at directing the ball and protecting defenders back then. When asked about this characteristic, he explained:

“I WAS ALWAYS LIKE THAT, GUIDING THE BALL EVER SINCE I WAS A KID — I LOVE TO HOLD THE BALL AND SHIELD IT. IT’S ONE OF MY STRONG SIDES — KNOWING HOW TO USE MY BODY WAS ALWAYS MY STYLE.”

On 17 September 2006, when he substituted Steven Defour in the 89th minute, the 17-year-old Witsel made his debut with

Standard Liege

during a friendly game against FC Brussels.

Eleven days later, as a replacement, he made his European debut.

He was a core part of the Standard Liege team, winners of the Belgian League title that year, during the 2007–08 season, at 18 years of age.

During that year, together with other Belgian talents, Defour and Marouane Fellaini, he established a very young midfield.

He then scored the game-winning goal from the penalty spot in a two-legged playoff to determine the championship the next season.

On July 13, 2011, Witsel signed a five-year contract with

Benfica

, which included a €40 million buyout clause.

In the Champions League play-off second leg, on 24 August 2011, Witsel scored twice in the 3-1 win over FC Twente, taking Benfica to the group stages with a 5-3 aggregate victory.

On 14 April, Benfica reached the final against Gil Vicente and Witsel was given the Man of the Match award as Benfica won a 2-1 victory for their fourth Taca da Liga title.

On 3 September 2012, after signing a five-year deal, Witsel signed for

Zenit Saint Petersburg

for €40 million, one of the Top facts about Axel Witsel.

Witsel made his Russian Premier League debut on 14 September, replacing Konstantin Zyryanov as Zenit fell 2-0 to Terek Grozny in the 70th minute.

On November 30, he netted his first two goals for Zenit when the team beat Spartak Moscow 4–2 at the Luzhniki Stadium.

On 30 March 2013, Witsel scored an eighth-minute strike against Terek Grozny, Zenit's winner, as his team cruised to a 3-0 league victory.

Witsel played the full 90 minutes on Sunday 17 May as Zenit drew 1-1 with FC Ufa, gaining the point they needed to secure the crown of the Premier League, the club's fourth overall and Zenit's first with Witsel.

Witsel converted his penalty shot in a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over FC Lokomotiv Moscow in the 2015 Russian Super Cup on 12 July 2015, after the match had ended 1-1.

Zenit formally confirmed on 3 January 2017 that Witsel moved to Tianjin Quanjian Chinese club.

In a 2-0 defeat to Guangzhou R&F on 4 March 2017, Witsel made his debut for Quanjian.

A week later, during a 1–1 draw with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, he netted the club's first ever goal in the Chinese Super League.

Witsel signed a four-year contract with Bundesliga team

Borussia Dortmund

on 6 August 2018, which stretches until 30 June 2022.

After coming on as a substitute on his debut for the club against SpVgg Greuther Furth in the DFB-Pokal first round match on August 21, he scored an equalising goal in stoppage time to make it 1–1, and his side went on to win the match in extra time with a 2-1 victory.

With an overhead kick in a 4-1 win over RB Leipzig on 26 August, Witsel produced his first Bundesliga goal on his league debut for the club.

Axel Witsel Relationship Life

There's a great woman behind every great man, or so the saying goes. And there's a beautiful wife, wag, or girlfriend behind almost every good Belgian footballer.

Without a doubt, the style of play of Axel Witsel as well as his lifestyle off the pitch create a full image of him.

Axel was in a relationship with Rafaella Szabo, who was born in Romania with Hungarian roots. When she was two years old, she moved to Belgium.

One of the

Top facts about Axel Witsel

is that Rafaella and Axel had been dating for 6 years before tying the knot in 2015.

Today, their marriage is blessed by two lovely daughters who have recently become members of the Axel Witsel family.

Mai-Li Witsel is Axel's eldest daughter's name.

Axel Witsel Rich Family Background

In 2017, fans around the world were shocked by the decision of Axel Witsel to turn down a move to

Juventus

in favour of a lucrative offer from the Chinese Super League, one of the Top facts about Axel Witsel.

Witsel said he made the right decision for his family when interviewed.

His motive for accepting China's €18 million-per-year payment was to create a solid Axel Witsel family legacy that would guarantee decades of financial protection and happiness.

Compared to his previous salaries of €3 million per year at Zenit, Axel was not motivated by Juventus to give him €4.5 million per year.

If he had accepted, he would have been joining a relatively successful European team in the knockout stages of the Champions League, with a real chance of winning the tournament.

Instead, following the footsteps of Carlos Tevez, he decided to sign for Tianjin Quanjian of China, established in 2006, for an annual salary that was 4 times higher than what Juventus paid him.

When Witsel's move to Tianjin was announced, social media flooded with fans calling him a mercenary, a money grabber, and any other insult imaginable reserved for athletes who put their own financial well-being above all else.

Axel Witsel and The Defense

Everything about Witsel's response to the fans' accusations about his move to China was perfectly fair.

He was realistic about his motivation to take care of his family and ensure his future; and why shouldn't he be?

In his words:

“MORE THAN EVER BEFORE, SOCCER IS A BUSINESS. IT’S DRIVEN BY PROFITS, MARGINS, AND TURNOVER.

PLAYERS ARE EQUALLY COMMODITIES AND EMPLOYEES, FREE TO BE TRADED AND DEALT AS BALANCE SHEET AND FINANCES DICTATE.

IN THE BUSINESS WORLD, A MOVE TO A NEW JOB THAT LED TO AN EMPLOYEE SEXTUPLING THEIR SALARY WOULD BE GREETED WITH CONGRATULATIONS AND PRAISE.

BUT FOR SOME REASON, THIS SENTIMENT DOESN’T SEEM TO APPLY TO ATHLETES. WHY SHOULD SPORTSPEOPLE BE HELD TO A DIFFERENT STANDARD THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD?

FOR SUPPORTERS WHO WATCH THE SPORT DAY IN AND DAY OUT, IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO GRASP THAT THIS BEAUTIFUL GAME OF SOCCER IS JUST A JOB FOR A NUMBER OF ATHLETES.

WHILE MANY FANTASTIC PLAYERS DO SHOW UP AND ENTERTAIN THE CROWDS SIMPLY FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME, FOR OTHERS, IT’S SOLELY AN AVENUE TO MAKE A COMFORTABLE LIVING AND TAKE CARE OF ONE’S FAMILY.

FANS OFTEN LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH THEIR SPORTING HEROES, AND TO HEAR THAT THEY’RE MOTIVATED BY MONEY RATHER THAN A PURE, UNADULTERATED PASSION FOR THE GAME CAN BE A REAL HAMMER BLOW, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE TINY MINORITY OF PEOPLE WHO DO EARN THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES.

Because of this, many his fans have agreed that Witsel’s decision makes perfect sense.

Axel Witsel Hobbies

Years ago, Zenit St Petersburg supporters asked for non-white and gay players to be removed from the team.

The biggest fan group of the Russian champions, Landscrona, said in an open-letter that black players whose group Axel Witsel belongs to were "forced down Zenit's throat." They also said gay players are "unworthy of our great city."

In the defence for their racism, the fans’ manifesto read:

“THE ABSENCE OF BLACK ZENIT PLAYERS IS JUST AN IMPORTANT TRADITION THAT UNDERLINES THE TEAM’S IDENTITY AND NOTHING MORE.”

Ideally, black players in the Russian league have been the focus of monkey chants and banana throws.

Christopher Samba's Anzhi Makhachkala had bananas thrown at him by fans.

More so, Zenit St Petersburg was fined by the Russian Football Union after one of their fans offered a banana to Roberto Carlos Anzhi before a match between the two sides in March 2011.

Axel Witsel Net Worth and Salary

Axel Witsel has been a professional football player since 2006, and according to reports, he has a net worth of $11 million as of 2018, one of the Top facts about Axel Witsel.

Axel, a Tianjin Quanjian player, reportedly receives a $19.72 million annual salary.

Witsel has previously played for Standard Liege, Benfica, Zenit Saint Petersburg, and Tianjin Quanjian, among other clubs.

Witsel has not revealed much about his sponsorship deals, unlike other football stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Witsel does, however, reportedly support his favorite brand Adidas for an undisclosed fee and details.

Witsel probably has local sponsorship deals as well, which are not in the limelight.

Witsel seems to enjoy watches and bikes as well, but he has not mentioned which brands he prefers. Hope it'll be out soon.

He maintains a low profile when it comes to his personal life, and he hasn't shared anything about his house.

He most certainly owns a vast real estate empire due to his huge earnings.

And speaking of cars, Witsel seems really drawn to luxury cars. Porsche, Mercedes, and Audi are among the automobiles in his collection.

Nother one of the Top facts about Axel Witsel is that his vehicles are estimated to be worth about $1 million in total.

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