Manchester United’s Hannibal Mejbri chooses Tunisia

by Scott Eckersley

It’s been quite a fortnight for Manchester United starlet Hannibal Mejbri.

Just over a week ago, the 18 year old midfielder capped a season of progress in the U23’s by being named the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year.

A few days later he made even bigger waves by rejecting the chance to play for France, opting instead to play for his country of descent, Tunisia.

Mejbri was born in Paris to parents from the North African country, with his father Lofti having represented the ‘Desert Foxes’ on the international stage.

With 15 appearances for France at youth level, Mejbri was expected to eventually earn full caps for Les Bleus. However, the teenager has swerved expectations by choosing to play for the country closest to his heart.

Judging by theheld in his honour, it seems that the decision has generated a huge swell of excitement back in Tunisia.

In footage of the event, the audience of officials and dignitaries blink away an onslaught of strobes. Corinthian columns then part to reveal an overwhelmed Mejbri framed somewhat daringly by flaming torches.

This is the Hannibal Mejbri experience.

It might seem ever-so-slightly excessive for a player whose most notable footballing moment thus far is a cheeky nutmeg past Wolverhampton Wanderers’ defender Willy Boly but that narrow perspective perhaps misses the point.

This is, after all, a prodigious talent who was linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs before joining United from Monaco in 2019.

Mejbri is a technically-gifted firebrand with a reputation for being one of the most exciting young players in England. He’s also seen as being a near-certainty to establish himself in the United first team in the near future.

United fans have been similarly swept along by the Hannibal hype train – monitoring his progress from day one and clamouring for him to be given a first team run out. The fans’ prayers were finally answered with a brief yet exciting cameo in the final game of the season at Molineux.

It’s to be hoped that the fanfare greeting his first steps for club and country marks the start of a
memorable career. Judging by the recent pyrotechnics, there’s sure to be fireworks.

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