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Adel Sellimi

Personal information
Full nameAdel Sellimi
Height1.82 m (5 ft 11.6 in)
Playing positionStriker

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Adel Sellimi ( ) was born on 16 November 1972 in the Bab Jedid district of Tunis. As a child, he drew inspiration from the 1978 World Cup team who became the first African nation to win a World Cup match. At the age of 10, he joined his first club, Club Africain of Tunis, and he stayed there for the next 14 years, picking up two Tunisian league titles and one Tunisia Cup along the way.

His quick pace, strength on the ball and creativity earned him a call-up to the national team, and he earned his first cap in September 1993, during a match against Germany. Following a promising performance he carved out a virtually permanent place for himself in the country's national team for the next eleven years.

Tunisians grew to appreciate his discretion in life outside of football as a modest and determined professional. On the pitch, he singularly distinguished himself at international level during the 1996 African Cup of Nations finals in South Africa as one of the best players of the tournament. Sellimi became a household name throughout the country, a skillful and talented bright spark who carried the team to the final of the tournament for the second time in their history. Sellimi struck twice in the semi-final against Zambia, and was widely considered one of the best players in the tournament.

This movement into the limelight earned the player a transfer to French Ligue 1 side FC Nantes Atlantique, following another impressive showing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. But his move to France marked the start of a long barren period. Although the Nantes fans dubbed him "The Lung" on account of the distance he clocked up during matches, he never really settled in at his new club. He hit just two goals in 30 appearances in his first season, and failed to achieve the kind of success he had enjoyed back home in Tunisia. After another disappointing season in 1997/98, Sellimi left Nantes for Spanish second division side Real Jaén. It was here that he got some first-class matches under his belt, and finally found form. This surge in form earned him a call-up to the 1998 World Cup squad, where he put in steady performances against England and Romania.

Bundesliga side Freiburg took a gamble on Sellimi and partnered the player with other Tunisian internationals, anchorman Zoubeir Baya and fellow striker Mehdi Benslimane. But here too he took a long time finding his true form, and many at Freiburg considered him a mistaken purchase during his first year. However, he proved his detractors wrong in the best possible way in the 1999/2000 season. Sellimi just could not stop scoring goals and even headed the Bundesliga's goalscoring list going into the winter break.

A disappointing 2001 lead to Sellimi missing out on the 2002 African Cup of Nations in Mali and a number of international friendlies after a fall-out with former national coach Henri Michel. But the Frenchman's replacement with Ammar Souayah coupled with the national team's goal drought brought about his recall. The 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan turned out to be Adel Sellimi's swansong in premier football competitions, and he retired from international football shortly after the tournament at the age of 31. He returned to Club Africain shortly afterwards, and is now Head Coach of Jendouba Sport in Tunisia, recently gaining promotion to Ligue 1.

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