Achraf Hakimi was born in Madrid but will not hesitate to seek the downfall of the Spanish team in the match he will play on Tuesday, along with the rest of the Moroccan team, against the 2010 world champions.
The fast winger is one of the key pieces of the North African team, whose round of 16 match against Spain, at the Education City stadium in Rayyan, may give them the opportunity to reach the quarterfinals of a World Cup for the first time.
Hakimi could even have been on the opposite side, having been called up while still a teenager for the Spain youth team.
“I saw that it was not my right place, I did not feel at home. It was not for anything in particular, but for what I felt, because it was not what I had sucked and lived at home, which is Arab culture, being Moroccan “He told the Spanish newspaper Marca in advance of the clash on Tuesday.
Hakimi’s father was a vendor on the streets of Madrid and his mother cleaned houses.
His son was signed by Real Madrid at the age of seven, made it to the first team, was loaned to Borussia Dortmund, won the Serie A title with Inter Milan and now plays alongside Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé at Paris Saint -Germain.
And he is only 24 years old.
It will not be the first time that he plays against Spain. Hakimi was in the team that was about to beat them in Kaliningrad in 2018, in which Iago Aspas got a tie in discounts at the 2018 World Cup in Russia (2-2).
“Four years of learning great things have passed. I came with another mentality and much more mature,” he said.
“Always (Spain is a favourite) to win, since the World Cup began. It is in the Top-5. (…) The coach has also taught us to have a winning mentality: it doesn’t matter who comes, we have to play our game , in the line that we are”.
“We have been first in the group and I think we already deserve a little respect. I think Spain knows that and that they have to be a little afraid of us. They have to be afraid of us, really. And why not surprise us again,” he wondered aloud.
Morocco secured their place in the round of 16 with a victory over Belgium (2-0) and then beat Canada (2-1) to win Group F, leaving Croatia second.
“It’s something unique, playing for your country. And especially now that we’re making history. It’s incredible to see how people are experiencing it, that transmits a lot to us and gives us the strength to continue and do great things,” added Hakimi.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.