Home » Zidane Iqbal: Manchester United’s first British-Pakistani player is a role model for many around the world

Zidane Iqbal: Manchester United’s first British-Pakistani player is a role model for many around the world

by Raj Dholakia

Manchester United’s Zidane Iqbal is one of the club’s most promising youngsters in the academy.

Born in Manchester to a Pakistani father and an Iraqi mother, Zidane joined United’s academy at the age of nine.

He is a part of 0.25 per cent of Britain’s population of footballers from a South Asian background.

Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury and Aston Villa’s Arjan Raikhy are other Premier League players of that descent.

Zidane’s first coach Stewart Hamer spoke to Manchester Evening News about his early coaching days.

“I became Sale United’s Development Officer in the early 2000s. I started off an Under 5s program called ‘Gimme 5s’, and it really took off, and Zidane was part of that when he came.”

“I worked with him from when he was three of four when he first started, and he was, of course, very, very young.

“So, I took Zidane through that, and we brought him into Sale United as an Under-6, and other coaches helped him through into the next stages.”

“I think at the time Zidane got taken to United, City and Liverpool as well. My advice was, always just stick to one club’s development centre, though, because you get different messages from each academy on how players should develop.

“We used to run competitions at the end of the year, and invariably Zidane would do very well, as would some of the other kids to be fair, but he did certainly have quite a bit of talent — very early on, you could tell Zidane had a clear ability to control the ball.”

The 18 year old is a versatile midfielder. Elegant on the ball, he has the vision and guile to link up with forwards and create goalscoring chances for the team.

After signing his first professional contract at United in April, Zidane has slowly built a reputation as one of United’s most exciting academy prospects.

He has been promoted to Neil Wood’s United U23 squad. The 18 year old will be bidding to emulate Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga and Hannibal Mejbri, who have recently made their first-team debuts under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Zidane is a huge inspiration for young footballers of South-Asian descent and has the potential to be another one of Man United’s academy stars.

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