Jalil Anibaba has gained a lot of experience in his seven years as a professional soccer player. He’s seen the game through the lenses of a promising youngster, reliable starter, and disposable journeyman. Through it all, Anibaba has learned the value of respect.
“One thing that I always try to do is work hard and worry about myself,” Anibaba explained. “Anytime I come into a new team or new situation or [start] playing for a new coach, the first thing that I always try to focus on is gaining the respect of the guys in the locker room.”
Anibaba was able to gain the respect of his teammates at four different clubs before he joined the New England Revolution in 2018. His latest destination is no different than the others, as he’s established himself as a hard-worker who’s committed to doing everything he can to help the team.
Anibaba’s passion can be seen when he celebrates an important block or tackle. The 29-year-old puts on a show that would rival most goal celebrations.
These little bursts of excitement serve as proof that Anibaba loves being on the field, which wasn’t guaranteed at the start of the season. Originally welcomed into camp as a trialist, the veteran eventually put pen to paper in February. Even then, it was expected the Anibaba would be a reserve behind Claude Dielna and Antonio Delamea. Anibaba was forced into action during the season opener when Delamea was ejected. Since then, he’s been a full-time stater.
Even now, Anibaba remains humble because he knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. This, of course, all goes back to the importance of respect.
“I’ve been on every single [rung of] the totem poll that you can think of—inside the 18, outside, starting, all of it—so I have respect for everybody throughout the locker room,” Anibaba said. “Whether they’re starting or they aren’t, I know what they’re going through.”
When looking back on his career, Anibaba said he’s “been blessed to be able experience multiple cities, multiple organizations.” Relocating to New England has brought more of the same, as the transition has been smooth.
“I’m very, very, very happy here – very comfortable here,” Anibaba said. “I have a lot of fun with the guys in the locker room. We work very hard, I think that’s something that I’ve been able to do throughout my whole career – is just work really hard and I think the group shares that same mindset.”