Two more from childhood in Europe.
The Moroccan national team is the main sensation of the World Cup: they reached the semi-finals, knocking out Spain and Portugal along the way, and now they will test France.
We have already highlighted the globalization of the African national team: 14 of the 26 players and Walid Regragui were not born in Morocco; two more left the country in early childhood. This post is a visualization of an amazing fact.
First, let’s look at those who were born in Morocco.
And even here there are caveats:
• Abdelhamid Sabiri left for Frankfurt at the age of 3, was brought up in local academies and even played for the German youth team;
• Almost the same story with Eza Abde: the family moved to Spain when the guy was 4. Then – the Spanish football system.
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But those who were not born in Morocco.
• Just in case, let’s clarify: the Spanish flag in Africa by Munir Mohamedi is not a mistake. The goalkeeper was born in Melilla – the autonomy of Spain, which is located on the territory of Morocco. Africans themselves consider the city occupied and have been making claims to the territory for 40 years. In addition to Melilla, Ceuta has the same status.
Both cities have clubs in the Spanish football system – Mohamedi has played for both Ceuta and Melilla.
• Amrabat, Ziyech and Abuhlal played for the Dutch youth teams, El Hannus and Zaruri for Belgium.
More than 5 million Moroccans live in Europe – according to average estimates, 15% of the country’s population. This is the largest African diaspora in Europe. The centers of gravity are in France (33% of Moroccan migrants live there), Spain (26%) and Italy (16%). And in Belgium, in general, 4% of the population have Moroccan citizenship.
Why are there so many Moroccans in Belgium? Between the countries there was an agreement on labor!
Unlike Ghana, which simply persuaded the stars to play for the African team only in the summer, the Moroccan Football Federation has been following juniors in Europe since childhood: a whole network of scouts operates in the countries of Central and Southern Europe.
“By the time a player makes his debut in senior football, the federation has a full record of him,” says African football expert Salim Masoud Saeed.
If the junior level suits Morocco, he will be called to the training camp: according to Said, Ashraf Hakimi was called to the training camp of the national team already at 14-15.
“We’ve had problems with guys born in Europe,” says Walid Regragui, head coach of Morocco, who grew up in Paris. – Journalists asked: “Why don’t we play guys from Morocco?” But we united all the Moroccans around the team. It means more than any money and titles.”