Ryan Guno Babel (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈrɑjɐn ˈbaːbəl]; born 19 December 1986) is a football player who currently plays for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. He can play as a left winger and as a striker. Babel began his career at AFC Ajax in 1998, working his way up through the youth team and into the senior squad. He played three seasons for the first team before he was transferred to Liverpool in mid-2007, where under three successive managers he failed to secure a regular first team position. Babel was sold to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in January 2011, for a sum around half of that which Liverpool paid for him. Babel has been part of the Dutch national football team since 2005, and has represented his country at all youth team levels.
Ryan Babel, born 19 December 1986, grew up in Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam and was interested in football from an early age. Inspired by the local footballing talent, including Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, Babel played for nearby youth-teams S.V Diemen, then Fortius. In 1997, he attended a youth selection day with AFC Ajax. He made it through the first selection round, but failed to progress any further. However, the next year Ajax accepted him and he played the 1998–99 season for their D1 team. After having graduated through the C1, B1 and A1 teams, Babel signed his first professional contract in January 2004.
Playing as a forward, on 1 February 2004, just one and a half months after his 17th birthday, Ajax coach Ronald Koeman gave Babel his first team debut in Ajax’s 4–0 home win over ADO Den Haag in the Eredivisie. Ajax went on to win the Dutch league title, but Babel didn’t feature again that season. Nine months later, on 20 November 2004 Babel scored his first senior goal against De Graafschap in a 5–0 victory.
In July 2005, Babel signed a new contract with Ajax. He started the new season by scoring the winning goal in Ajax’s 2–1 defeat of PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Super Cup. Babel scored in both legs of the Champions League third qualifying round against Brøndby as Ajax made it to the group stage. 2005–06 was a tougher season for Babel in general though as he managed only two league goals. He did however continue to feature for the national team, and scored his second goal against Italy in November. At the end of the season, Babel came on as a second-half substitute in Ajax’s 2–1 victory over PSV in the Dutch Cup final.
Babel marked the start of 2006–07 with another Dutch Super Cup winners medal, as Ajax defeated PSV 3–1. Babel was linked with Arsenal and Newcastle United during the January transfer window of the 2006–07 season but no move materialised. Amidst the transfer speculation, Babel agreed to a new three-year deal with Ajax on 2 February 2007. In May, Babel got another Dutch Cup winners medal as Ajax successfully defended the title. The match against AZ went to a penalty shoot-out, but Babel was substituted off after 120 minutes.
On 10 July 2007 it was reported that Liverpool had made a £14 million offer to the Amsterdam club. On 12 July it was reported that Liverpool and Ajax had agreed a fee in the region of £11.5 million, and later Liverpool confirmed that Babel would sign a five year contract on 13 July He was unveiled on 13 July with Yossi Benayoun. Babel was handed the number 19 shirt. He made his debut on 17 July against Werder Bremen in a friendly. He was due to play in the first round of the Barclays Asia Trophy 2007 but for a delay in the granting of international clearance. This was sorted out in time for the final against Portsmouth.
He made his Premier League debut in the 2007–08 Premier League curtain raiser against Aston Villa away after coming on off the bench. A week later and he made his Anfield debut, coming off the bench against Chelsea. On 1 September Babel scored his first goal for Liverpool against Derby County. Babel scored his first Champions League goal for Liverpool on 6 November against Beşiktaş J.K. after coming on as a substitute. He netted twice in the game and almost completed a hat-trick, with a header from a Harry Kewell cross, but was denied by the crossbar. Babel scored the fourth and last goal in Liverpool’s 2007–08 UEFA Champions League group stage match against Olympique de Marseille, which they needed to win. He came off the bench in the second leg of the quarter final against Arsenal in the Champions League and won a penalty and scored a goal, with Liverpool winning the game 4–2 (5–3 on aggregate). He also came on as a substitute against Chelsea in the semi-final and despite scoring a goal, Liverpool lost 3–2 in extra time.
Former Liverpool and Celtic player Kenny Dalglish has said that Babel has the ability to terrorise defenders in the Premier League with his pace and trickery with the ball. On 13 September 2008, Babel came off the bench to score the winner for Liverpool in a 2–1 victory over Manchester United, his first goal of the 2008–09 season Babel scored his second goal of the season in Liverpool’s 5–1 victory over Newcastle United on 28 December 2008.
On the 20 September 2009 against West Ham, Babel came off the bench for Dirk Kuyt. At this stage the score was 2–2. Babel picked up the ball and did well to beat the full-back and sent in a delightful cross for Fernando Torres to head home the winner. Babel, who has been criticized in the past for his work rate and attitude, earned praise for his efforts in the West Ham game. On 27 September 2009, Babel scored two goals against Hull City coming off the bench for Fernando Torres to round up a match which ended 6–1 for Liverpool. On 4 November 2009, Babel scored the opening goal against Lyon in a Champions League game, a strike from 25 yards in a 1–1 draw. Former Liverpool player Alan Hansen called upon Babel to play like he did against Lyon, as he still possessed the ability to be a ‘top player’.
On 6 January 2010, it was reported that Liverpool rejected an £8 million offer from Birmingham City for Babel. Babel was then disciplined by manager Benitez, over stating on his Twitter page that he had been dropped for the game against Stoke City, and was fined two weeks wages of £120,000. He was frequently linked with a move away from Anfield but Rafael Benitez stated his desire for Babel to stay. On 15 March 2010 he scored against Portsmouth in a 4–1 win. On 1 April 2010, he was sent off for the first time in his Liverpool career in the 30th minute of the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final against S.L. Benfica after an altercation with Luisão. He scored in Liverpool’s 4–0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor, subsequently relegating Burnley to the Championship. On 19 August 2010, Babel scored the winner against Trabzonspor in the Europa League qualifier first leg, it was his first game of the 2010-11 season. He started his first match in the Premier League at Anfield against Aston Villa and scored his first goal in the Premier League with a right-footed volley that beat former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
Babel was one of the Premier League players that used Twitter to communicate with fans. In January 2011 Babel posted an image on twitter of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup, and was charged by the F.A. with improper conduct and fined £10,000.
On 18 January Liverpool agreed a fee believed to be in the region of £7 million for Babel from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
On 24 January Kenny Dalglish said that Ryan would be staying at Liverpool, but the next day Babel flew to Germany to finalize the deal to sign with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. During his time at Liverpool Babel gained cult status among many of the Liverpool fans for antics on popular social networking website Twitter.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
On 25th January 2011, it was confirmed that Babel had left Liverpool to join German side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for a reported fee of £6 million, signing a deal for two-and-a-half-years.
His first competitive match was on 26 January 2011 in the DFB Cup quarter final match against FC Energie Cottbus. He is well known for his ‘left little finger out’ celebration, in support of disadvantaged youths in Amsterdam. On 9 April 2011 Babel scored his first goal for Hoffenheim, in a 3-2 loss to SC Freiburg.
Babel took part in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Babel scored two goals in four games as the Netherlands reached the quarter-finals. There they were defeated by Nigeria, 10–9 in a penalty shoot-out (Babel scored his penalty).
Later that season, Babel made his international debut on 26 March 2005, away against Romania. He entered the game as a first-half substitute for Arjen Robben and went on to score the second goal in a 2–0 victory. The goal made Babel the youngest goalscorer in 68 years for the Netherlands and the fourth-youngest of all time. Babel had been a first team regular with Ajax in 2004–05 and finished with seven league goals in 22 appearances.
In 2006, Marco van Basten included Babel in the Dutch squad for 2006 FIFA World Cup. Due to a knee injury however, Babel only featured once, as a second-half substitute for Ruud van Nistelrooy in the group match against Argentina. Van Basten has been quoted as saying Babel “has all the potential to become the next Thierry Henry”.
In June 2007, Babel was part of the Netherlands under-21 team competing in the UEFA Under-21 Championship, being held in the Netherlands. In the group stage, Babel scored a penalty against Portugal, helping the Dutch to secure a semi-final spot and thus qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. His second tournament goal came during his man of the match performance in the final as the Netherlands defeated Serbia 4–1 to retain their title.
In May 2008, Babel was selected for the Dutch squad which will compete in the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament. On 31 May, it was announced that Babel had been withdrawn from the squad after tearing ankle ligaments in training. Van Basten added then-Chelsea defender Khalid Boulahrouz to his squad in place of Babel.
2010 World Cup
Babel was included in the preliminary squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. On 27 May 2010, Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk announced that the player would be part of the final squad of 23 participating in the competition. Though the Netherlands reached the final, Babel didn’t get to play a single minute in South Africa.
|Club||Season||Eredivisie||KNVB Cup||Super Cup||Europe||Total|
|Premier League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Last updated 11 January 2011|
|1||26 March 2005||Romania||2–0||Won||WC 2006 Qual.|
|2||12 November 2005||Italy||1–3||Loss||Friendly|
|3||1 June 2006||Mexico||2–1||Won||Friendly|
|4||7 February 2007||Russia||4–1||Won||Friendly|
|5||24 May 2008||Ukraine||3–0||Won||Friendly|
|Last updated 24 May 2008|
- Eredivisie: 2003-2004
- Dutch Cup: 2005–2006, 2006–2007
- Dutch Super Cup: 2005, 2006
- 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship
- 2010 FIFA World Cup
- Man of the Match: UEFA U-21 2007 finals
- UEFA U-21 Team of the Tournament: 2007
- 2006–2007 AFC Ajax Young Player of the Season
- 2007–2008 Liverpool FC Young Player of the Season