The experienced attacking-midfielder hopes to triumph in the African Cup of Nations 2019 before considering retirement.
By Binwei Yu
Rabat – Born in the Netherlands to Moroccan parents in 1984, Mbark Boussoufa is currently an attacking midfielder for Al-Shabab and the Moroccan national team, the Atlas Lions.
Boussoufa was discovered by scouts for AFC Ajax Amsterdam at the age of twelve and joined the club’s Youth Academy in 1996. In 2001, Boussoufa moved to England, joining Premier League team Chelsea F.C.
In his first year at Chelsea, Boussoufa remained as a substitute, but in the following year became captain of the club’s second team.
At the end of his contract with Chelsea, Boussoufa signed his contract with K.K.A. Gent. While playing for K.K.A. Gent, he won the Ebony Boot, a prize for the best player of African descendant in Belgium. He also won the 2006 Golden Boot Best Player in the Belgian First Division.
The attacking-midfielder stayed with Anderlecht from 2006 to 2011, where he made his professional debut in the Jupiler Pro League and became the Pro League’s most popular players.
While with the Belgian club, the Dutch-Moroccan player won the Soulier d’Or Belge in 2006 and 2010.
In 2013 Boussoufa transferred again to FC Lokomotiv Moscow. During his years at Lokomotiv Moscow, he has made 39 appearances and scored 3 goals.
The Moroccan footballer did not settle into life at the Russian club and was eager to finish his contract and return the Netherlands or Morocco for personal reasons.
In an interview in 2015, he said, “Today, I do not make friends anymore. In fact, I have been very lonely in Russia for the past four years.”
Boussoufa returned to Belgium to play for K.A.A. Gent on loan in 2016. During his time with Ghent, Boussoufa was the match winner for Ghent against Mouscron-Péruwelz.
While on loan with Ghent, he made 11 appearances and scored 2 goals.
In July 2016, Boussoufa officially left Ghent and signed a two-year contract with Al-Jazira, a professional football club based in the United Arab Emirates.
In 2019, Boussoufa signed a contract with a Saudi professional football club Al-Shabab, which lasts from 3 January this year to the end of the season. So far, he has made 15 appearances and scored 1 goal while at Al-Shabab.
Playing for the Atlas Lions
Qualified to play for both the Dutch and Moroccan national teams, Boussoufa chose to join Morocco’s Atlas Lions.
Talking about his choice to play with the Atlas Lions, Boussafa said in an interview with Jeune Afrique, “It is a country with which I have always been connected, because I went there for the holidays and I followed the matches of the selection. So I accepted, despite the approaches of the Netherlands a little later, and I do not regret it”.
In May 2006, he accepted the invitation to join the Moroccan national team in the African Cup of Nations (CAN). In his first official match, he scored a goal, cementing his position with the national squad.
In 2012, Boussoufa represented the Atlas Lions in the CAN. His attacking football skills helped the Atlas Lions to win against Nigeria.
Boussoufa was qualified to play once again for Morocco in CAN 2017 and reached the quarter-finals along with the new generation of footballers. A year later, Boussoufa and the Atlas Lions qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
An experienced player, fans have speculated that the midfielder may be close to retirement. Boussoufa, however hopes to finish CAN 2019 first.
“Of course. I know that the end is near. I hope to play CAN in Egypt. And then, we’ll see, even if one day it will leave room for the youngest. There is a beautiful generation coming in, which is good news for the selection” he explained to Jeune Afrique.
Boussoufa is now in Egypt with the Moroccan national squad to participate in CAN 2019. On June 23, 2019, the Atlas Lions started their 2019 CAN Group D campaign with a 1-0 win over Namibia.
“We were the better side and missed many chances,” Boussoufa said.
Boussoufa is hoping for better performance in the match against Ivory Coast on Friday, June 28.