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Moroccan right wingback Achraf Hakimi became a national hero when he scored the winning penalty against Spain in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16, bringing his country to the quarter-finals for the first time in history.
Scored the winning penalty against Spain
Hakimi stepped up to take the decisive penalty for his side in front of thousands of spectators in Qatar's Education Stadium.
At this point, Spain had missed three of their penalties in the shootout, while Morocco only missed one.
Hakimi needed to score to book his country a ticket to the quarter-finals.
Keeping his nerves at bay, the 24-year-old gently clipped a Panenka into the middle of the goal, sending Spain keeper Unai Simón the wrong way.
The stadium, which was mostly filled with Moroccan supporters, went wild.
Hakimi kept his cool and celebrated his goal with a penguin waddle as his Moroccan teammates and coaching staff ran towards him.
Achraf Hakimi hit the waddle after his game-winning panenka 🐧 pic.twitter.com/5nUdpytPGV— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 6, 2022
Hakimi has done the same celebration in August 2022 with his Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) teammate Sergio Ramos.
This Ramos x Hakimi celebration 😅— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 1, 2022
(via orwa.ta/IG) pic.twitter.com/OFYBR2x8R7
Morocco is now the fourth African country and the first Arab nation to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
They will face Portugal this Saturday (Dec. 10) at 11pm (SGT).
Was born and raised in Madrid, Spain
The fact that Hakimi was the one who scored the winning goal for Morocco was a tough pill for Spain to swallow.
Hakimi was born and raised in Madrid to Moroccan parents.
This means that he had the choice, as a professional football player, to represent either Spain or Morocco on the international stage.
Hakimi's parents had moved to Madrid at a young age to build a better life for themselves.
In Madrid, Hakimi's father worked as a vendor on the streets while his mother cleaned houses.
أحبك أمي ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2BLQ2jVbii— Achraf Hakimi (@AchrafHakimi) November 27, 2022
Why he chose to represent Morocco over Spain
When questioned why he decided to represent Morocco as opposed to Spain, Hakimi told German league Bundesliga in 2018:
"Earlier in my career I had the chance to play for Spain, they got in touch with me and I had to talk to my agents, my family and think about things.
I think I made the decision to play for Morocco because it's where my parents come from, how they raised me in a Moroccan, Muslim home, so I thought I'd be more comfortable playing for the Morocco national team."
So proud of this team. Let's go for more!🇲🇦🦁 pic.twitter.com/K2eRVsNwbw— Achraf Hakimi (@AchrafHakimi) November 23, 2022
More recently on Dec. 5, Hakimi said in an interview with Spanish sports outlet Marca that he did not feel at home in Spain.
He added, as translated by Morocco World News, that there isn't a definitive reason why he chose Morocco over Spain, but one contributing factor was that the Spanish team doesn't have the Arab and Moroccan culture he is used to at home.
The clubs he has played for
Hakimi currently plays for French club PSG, alongside star players Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappé.
PARIS EST MAGIQUE 💙❤️ pic.twitter.com/NzBBxaxVx9— Achraf Hakimi (@AchrafHakimi) October 16, 2022
He started his football career with Spanish club Real Madrid after he came through its academy as a kid.
After being promoted to Real Madrid's first-team in 2017, Hakimi moved to German club Borussia Dortmund on a two-year loan deal.
He then signed with Italian side Inter Milan, where he helped the club win the league title.
In 2021, PSG signed Hakimi for a reported fee of €60 million (~S$85 million).
Top images via Achraf Hakimi's Instagram page.
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