Ryan Tafazolli became the Tigers’ fourth signing under Grant McCann when penning a two-year deal – with the Club holding an option for a further year – following a successful trial period at the KCOM Stadium.
Born in Sutton, Ryan Tafazolli is a product of the very successful Southampton academy. Having joined the Saints’ academy aged 14, Tafazolli went on to captain the club’s U18s team and progressed through to be a key figure for the reserves after earning his first professional deal with the Hampshire outfit at the age of 18.
However, first-team opportunities proved hard to come by and he gained his first taste of senior football during a loan spell at Salisbury City in the highest level of the non-league game in English football. Tafazolli didn’t enjoy the best of starts though as he was, unfortunately, sent-off on his debut against York City in October 2009.
The 27-year-old centre-back went on to play five league games and one FA Cup fixture before heading back to his parent club in December. But, after failing to break into the Southampton set-up once again, he was back at Salisbury in 2011 for three months, playing three times in the FA Trophy.
After being released by Southampton following the conclusion of the 2010/11 campaign, Tafazolli had trials with both Reading and Eastleigh, but was unable to secure a contract before joining Isthmian League Premier Division side Concord Rangers, where he played for the majority of the 2011/12 season until finishing that campaign with Cambridge City in the Southern Premier League.
His next destination was Mansfield Town, signing with the Field Mill outfit in August 2012. He featured just five times in his first season due to injury as the Nottinghamshire outfit won promotion back to the Football League, but enjoyed a much better second campaign in 2013/14, racking up 24 appearances – and two goals – in the Stags’ League Two campaign. His performances on the pitch also earned him the Fans’ Player of the Season, Chairman and Directors’ Player of the Season, and Stags’ Association Player of the Season awards.
More progress followed in 2014/15 as he made 42 appearances in all competitions before extending his tally to 47 in 2015/16 in what proved to be his final season as a Mansfield Town player. It was also the campaign in which he registered his highest goals tally in a single season – finding the back of the net on six occasions.
But, after 118 appearances in three seasons at Mansfield, the defender opted for pastures new when penning a three-year deal with Peterborough United – who were managed by current Tigers Head Coach Grant McCann – in June 2016.
In three seasons as a Posh player, Tafazolli was a regular fixture in the Peterborough side and earned himself a reputation as one of the best defenders outside the top two tiers of English football.
He made a total of 131 appearances in all competitions – including 47 in the 2018/19 campaign – and scored a total of seven goals from the back before departing after turning down the chance to extend his stay at the Weston Homes Stadium this summer.
At six feet, five inches tall, heading is an obvious strength of Tafazolli’s, with the player posing a real threat in both boxes from set-pieces, shown by the fact he scored his first goal in a black and amber shirt in the Tigers’ 2-1 pre-season win over Lincoln Red Imps when heading home the winning goal for McCann’s side.
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