Without qualms: born and raised in the suburbs of Madrid, the side Achraf Hakimi succeeded on Tuesday in his decisive shot on goal to hoist Morocco for the first time in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and take out Spain, his adopted country.
It’s been almost three hours since the electric derby kicked off, when Achraf Hakimi exhales one last time, rushes forward, and lodges the ball to the left of Unai Simon with a subtle panenka, exploding the Education City stadium all acquired in Morocco. A shot on goal immediately entered the history of Moroccan football.
“We deserve to write this page of history”, had planned the side of Paris Saint-Germain in a press conference, Thursday, after the 2-1 victory against Canada and the qualification for the eighth. “Achieving something big with your country is better than with your club. Young, I saw the last generation who had played in the World Cup, and I dreamed of becoming like them”, had- he slips.
In the second period, before putting a ball back into play after a touch, we saw him smile at the words of Luis Enrique, the Spanish coach, who came to give him a friendly pat. But don’t be fooled by that devastating smile. This shot on goal is a stab in the back of his “second country”.
“Spain is his second country, his home. It’s the first house against the second,” whispered his father Hassan (51), all smiles, the day before the match. Son of a housekeeper and a traveling salesman, both Moroccans and living in Spain since the 1980s, Achraf Hakimi was born in Getafe (southern suburb of Madrid), in the district of Las Margaritas.
Perfect Spanish speaker, married to a Spanish actress (Hiba Abouk), Hakimi started football in Ofigevi, then quickly joined the Real Madrid training center, where he did all his classes. Then it was Dortmund, Inter Milan, then PSG.
Ready to write history
He even briefly passed through the Spanish youth team, but quickly noticed that it was not “the right place” for him: “I did not feel at home”, confided the player Monday in an interview to Marca, the best-selling sports newspaper in Spain.
Morocco – Spain, was it the most special match for him? “No. It will be the final,” Hakimi warned in Marca.
Promise kept. Tuesday, with his penalty, he did not eliminate only one country. He also buried the hopes of his two PSG accomplices Pablo Sarabia and Carlos Soler, first shooters for La Roja and who both failed (Sarabia on the post, Soler stopped by Yassine Bounou). And those of ex-teammates or friends crossed at Real, like Marco Asensio.
In celebration, Hakimi flashed a smile, and a childish dance step, imitating a penguin. The kid from Madrid is only 24 years old but has already written the history of his selection.