In April of 2018, Jospeh Stanley Okumu arrived in Ann Arbor with fellow countryman, Chris Odhiambo, to join AFC Ann Arbor for their summer campaign. The two Kenyans made their presence felt right away, bringing an intensity and level of professionalism to the training ground that was unmatched.
Okumu immediately made a splash leading a defensive stand that held teams scoreless for the first five matches, and only allowing four goals during the entire season. He was named 2018 TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Year in the National Premier Soccer League and was named Team MVP that successfully defended the Great Lakes Conference Championship.
In the middle of the season, Okumu began attracting interest from multiple USL Championship clubs, and signed with Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake MLS affiliate) and continued his form helping the club earn a string of great results.
But it was his most recent showing in the African Cup of Nations that sparked global attention on the young center back, which eventually paved the way for his transfer to IF Elfsborg. Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, said, “Stanley was fortunate to feature for Kenya in the African Cup of Nations this past summer and was tabbed one of the top 5 future stars of the tournament under the age of 23. That recognition spiked interest from clubs literally across the globe. Along with featuring in AFCON he has made a positive impact with the RSL Monarchs in 2019, which helped raise his market value in the football world.”
“IF Elfsborg is a respected club with a storied tradition in Sweden, so it's a great opportunity for Stanley to help them achieve their club ambitions, while also exposing him to European football. He has proven himself at every step along the way so far, so this is just another, rather larger, stage for him to showcase his abilities,” added Rudland.
Okumu’s signing to IF Elfsborg marks AFC Ann Arbor’s first player ever to play at a top European club. To be even a small stepping stone in Stanley’s journey was an honor for the staff, his teammates and the fans who were able to see him play.
“We know our place in the football pyramid. Being a 4th division club is all about helping players move up the ladder. Some players are very eager to do that and are willing to make the sacrifices. Those are the like-minded players that we hope to welcome into our club each season. With our connections now to the global game and our club's success we have everything in place to help players move onto higher levels of the game both domestically and internationally. Hopefully there are many more Stanley's to come,” said Rudland.