Pakistani Zidane makes Manchester United debut [SAMAA]

Pakistani Zidane makes Manchester United debut [SAMAA]

Midfielder Zidane Iqbal became the first British-Pakistani to play for a big European club when he made his Manchester United debut on Wednesday in their UEFA Champions League match against Swiss side Young Boys.

The 18-year-old came in as substitute in the match at Old Trafford, United’s home ground, replacing Jesse Lingard.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Zidane’s father is British-Pakistani while his mother is a British-Iraqi. He is eligible to represent England, Pakistan and Iraq at the international level and recently featured for Iraq U23s in the U23 WAFF Cup but remains eligible for all three senior national teams.

His choice may have been influenced by world football governing body FIFA’s ban on Pakistan due to third party interference since March and overall instability of Pakistan national team which has played around six international matches since 2015.

Zidane came through the Manchester United academy system and has represented the club at the youth level.

While Zidane became the first player of Pakistani origin to represent a club of such a high stature in the European football scene, there are numerous players with Pakistani ancestry playing professional football in the continent and are eligible to play for the Pakistan national team.

Ghayas Zahid, Norwegian-Pakistani became the first player of Pakistani origin to feature in the Champions League when he made his debut against Real Madrid whilst playing for Cypriot club APOEL FC in 2017.

Published by SAMAA Sports, 9 December 2021