Nothing tests the rhetoric of national pride more than opportunism. And this is especially true when it comes to many sportspeople of Moroccan origin.
Listed below are 7 notable Moroccan origin footballers who sought glory under a foreign flag.
1. Munir El Haddadi
Munir El Haddadi is by far the greatest loss for Moroccan football, at least in the eyes of the media and football experts. The young F.C Barcelona star was born to Moroccan parents in Spain. Along with other youngsters at the Catalan club, Munir is seen as the leader of a new vanguard of young players that promise a bright future for BARCA. The 20 years old talent represented Spain against Macedonia on September of 2014, amid controversy over his international future. His choice sparked criticism across the football community in Morocco.
2. Anwar El Ghazi
Anwar El Ghazi is without a shadow of a doubt one of the brightest prospects in football. The Dutch-Moroccan winger, who currently plays for the AFC Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie, is linked with some of Europe’s giant football clubs including FC Barcelona, Liverpool F.C. and Manchester United. El Ghazi made his international debut for the Netherlands national team in October 2015. A very promising talent whose services would have contributed greatly to Morocco’s national team.
3. Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini has established himself as a driving force at his current English club Manchester United. The towering Moroccan-Belgian midfielder is praised for his ability to track back and recover the ball, but also his very good technique and ability to support the attack. The star chose to represent Belgium internationally, and his debut with the Belgium senior national team was on February 2007.
4. Nacer Chadli
Nacer Chadli is a Moroccan-Belgian professional footballer who plays for premier league club Tottenham Hotspur. Unlike the other stars listed here, Chadli’s debut at the international level was for Morocco in a friendly against Northern Ireland in 2010. He was named man of the match. However, in 2011 he announced his intention to represent Belgium. This was possible under fifa’s regulation as he had not yet played in a competitive match for Morocco. His debut for The Red Devils was in 2011 in a friendly against Finland. He has since made 30 appearances with Belgium as of January 2016.
5. Zakaria Bakkali
Zakaria Bakkali is a Moroccan-Belgian professional footballer who currently plays for Valencia CF. in Spanish La Liga. The young attacking midfielder (19) first burst onto the scene when he became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the Dutch Eredivisie. Bakkali opted for the Red Devils in October of 2015 and his debut was in a world cup qualifier against Wales of the same year.
6. Ibrahim Afellay
Another Dutch-Moroccan who favoured representing the Netherlands, and another great loss for Morocco’s football. Ibrahim Affelay shot to prominence with the Dutch PSV Eindhoven before moving to the Catalan giant F.C. Barcelona. He has also played for the German FC Schalke 04 and the Greek Olympiacos F.C. He is currently playing for Stoke City F.C. in the Premier League. Afellay made Netherlands national team debut in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Slovenia in 2007.
7. Khalid Boulahrouz
Khalid Boulahrouz is a Moroccan-Dutch professional footballer who currently plays for Feyenoord Rotterdam in the Dutch Eredivisie. Nicknamed the “The Cannibal”, Boulahrouz is noted for his fierce defending skills mainly as a central defender, but he can also play on either flank, especially as a right back. The now 33 years old had played top-flight football in Europe. Boulahrouz’ debut with the Netherlands national team was on September 2004 against Liechtenstein. He has made 35 international appearances as of 1 January 2016.