The Super Eagles player, who last season assisted Rivers United in capturing the NPFL championship, decided to sign with the Slovenian top division team two months ago in search of a new adventure.
Football411 understands that the 21-year-old striker, a former member of 3SC and Remo Stars, was earlier signed to a three-year contract with NK Maribor.
Ishaq Rafiu did not, however, join the Slovenian team because Rivers United’s management asserted in a press release that the forward remained their Player despite the transfer and any visa-related complications.
The full statement reads;
“The attention of the Management of Rivers United football club of Port Harcourt has been drawn to a fictitious report being circulated in a section of the social media suggesting that our player Ishaq Rafiu Kayode has left the club. Ishaq Rafiu Kayode is still a bonafide player of Rivers United FC as his contract with the team is still valid and as such any purported transfer without the knowledge and consent of Rivers United FC will only be a breach of contract.
As a club, we are not aware of any such purported transfer as the player only absconded from the club and this position has been made known to FIFA thus any acquisition of the player without our consent is null and void. It is important to also note that Rivers United FC remain the only club that can release the said player to any other club when the proper things are done.”
The attacker couldn’t contain his excitement about playing in Europe after finally being introduced as NK Maribor’s new player, as he told the club website;
“Knowing that I will be playing in Europe for the first time is a dream come true. I was active during the visa process and did not miss any training. I’m happy to be here and can start working straight away.”
“Spoznanje, da bom prvič igral v Evropi, pomeni uresničitev mojih sanj. Med procesom pridobivanja vizuma sem bil aktiven in nisem zamudil nobenega treninga. Vesel sem, da sem tukaj in lahko takoj začnem z delom."
— NK Maribor (@nkmaribor) September 13, 2022
Rafiu Ishaq made a name for himself by helping Rivers United win their first NPFL championship in the 2021–2022 season. He is just one of many Nigerian stars who have shown that his nation is a football magnet.
“I’m excited to be here finally. It took a very long time, but I am happy that I became part of @nkmaribor. This is indeed another step in my journey to be a great player, I will give my best and help my team to achieve greatness.” – he wrote on his twitter page.
I'm excited to be here finally. It took a very long time, but I am happy that I became part of @nkmaribor.
This is indeed another step in my journey to be a great player, I will give my best and help my team to achieve greatness. ??? pic.twitter.com/wtNItppw4p
— Rafiu Ishaq Kayode (@ishaq_rafiu) September 13, 2022
Rafiu Ishaq, who had 14 league goals in his final season with Rivers United, was able to make his Super Eagles debut in May, though the Nigerian senior team lost the friendly game to Mexico.