Real Madrid's Achraf Hakimi is a source of huge pride in Morocco
Former Real Madrid youth coach Luis Miguel Ramis, who was a team-mate of mine at Deportivo La Coruña, was the first person who spoke to me about Achraf Hakimi. The full-back was in Ramis' Under-19s team when he said to me: "We've got a Moroccan lad here who you have to have a look at. He's got loads of talent, and I think he's going to be a heck of a player." And he was dead right.
Achraf playing for Real Madrid brings Moroccans huge joy
In my current role as a director at the Moroccan FA, I watched him up close in his two recent appearances for the national team, and was left in little doubt as to the bags of potential that he has. He plays on the left of defence for us, which maybe doesn't help him to demonstrate all his qualities, but he's shown that he's a player with real attacking flair who boasts a great ability to go by his man.
During my playing days, the possibility of a move to Real Madrid came up three times, during the coaching tenures of Jupp Heynckes, John Toshack and Carlos Queiroz. When that happened, the whole of Morocco was thrilled at the prospect of a footballer from our country turning out for Real; so Moroccans now feel immense pride and joy at seeing Achraf in the white shirt.
My advice to Achraf: as a defender, defending comes first
The best advice I can give him is that, as a defender, being able to defend comes first; get that right, and you'll have plenty of chances to show what you can do in attack. I'd also tell him to listen, learn and respect his team-mates. But he's lucky enough to be playing under a top coach in Zinedine Zidane, who I'm sure is giving him excellent guidance. He also has Sergio Ramos alongside him, who'll be there to keep him right in every area.
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