Signed in September 2001 from our Champions League opponents, Paris St Germain, in what might be regarded as one of Kevin Keegans greatest captures. Ali Benarbia's name was entered into Manchester City's books, even though he was 33 and a relative unknown quantity at the time he still had enough to persuade Kevin Keegan to offer him a contract, and on a free no less!
At the time the scenario was much different for both clubs than it is now, City had just slipped back into Division One, had removed Joe Royle at the helm and replaced him with Keegan. For PSG, finishing fourth that season, would actually have two more players on their books who would find their way to the Blue side of Manchester. Sylvain Distin was loaned out to Newcastle but Nicolas Anelka was in Les Parisiens side for part of that season before being loaned to Liverpool.
Ali managed to bag eight goals in thirty eight appearances, four in his first six, to instantly return City to the top flight. This status they have kept ever since. The next season Anelka and Distin would join Benarbia at City for the last Maine Road season.
In the Premiership, Ali only scored only three goals as City finished 9th and Ali moved on to Al Rayyan, after his final appearance in front of City fans coming on May 11th 2003. Although Benarbia wasn't at City for long he left Blue fans with many memories. Like Eyal Berkovic and Georgi Kinkladze before them it wasn't long before Benarbia had been fully welcomed as a City star.
Later this year he celebrates his forty eighth birthday, although his reputation might be tarnished a little with his comments earlier in the week on which of his former sides will come out on top and progress in the Champions League.