Achraf Hakimi was born in Madrid but will have little hesitation plotting the downfall of Spain when he and his Moroccan teammates take on the 2010 World Cup winners on Tuesday.
The flying wingback is one of the key players in the north African outfit whose last-16 match in the Qatar World Cup against Spain, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, gives them a chance to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.
Hakimi could even have been on the opposite side, as he was called up when still a teenager for Spain’s junior team.
“I felt it was not the right place for me, I did not feel at home. It was not for anything in particular, but it was not how I lived at home, which is the Arab culture, being Moroccan.”
“It is something unique, playing for your country. And especially now that we are making history. It’s incredible to see how people are living it with us, and that energy transmits a lot to us and gives us strength to continue and look to do great things,” Hakimi added.
Hakimi’s father was a vendor on the streets of Madrid and his mother cleaned houses. Their son was signed by Real Madrid at the age of seven, broke through to the first team, went to Borussia Dortmund on loan, won the Serie A title with Inter Milan and is now playing alongside Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe at Paris St Germain and he is still only 24 years old.
It will not be the first time he plays against Spain. Hakimi was in the side that almost beat them in Kaliningrad in 2018, giving up an injury-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw at the last World Cup in Russia.