Hakimi feels that being on loan to Borussia Dortmund has helped him to “grow” as a player.
Rabat – The Moroccan-Spanish football player Achraf Hakimi has spoken to Spanish news outlet El Pais in an interview about racism in football, his transition to playing in the German Bundesliga, and his childhood.
The 21-year-old said he has not experienced racist insults himself, but he spoke up for those who have. Just last month, in a Bulgaria-England match, Bulgarian fans disrupted play with racist taunts and Nazi salutes, earning sanctions and fines for Bulgarian football.
“It is not pleasant,” Hakimi said of racism on the pitch. “Hopefully it’s over now.”
The defender also told El Pais about his transition into playing for Borussia Dortmund in Germany’s Bundesliga. Hakimi joined the team on a two-year loan from Real Madrid in 2018. “I think it has helped me to mature and grow.”
He explained that he was intrigued to learn about a new culture as it was the first time he left home. “I didn’t know what I was going to find.”
While Hakimi suggested he would be interested in coming back to Madrid, he had subtle criticism for Spanish football. Spanish teams, he said, played with a “leisurely” style and focused on possession. But “soccer is based on scoring goals, not possession,” Hakimi said.
However, when the Atlas Lion struggled at his new club, he looked to Spanish football players Borja Mayoral and Dani Carvajal for inspiration.
Ultimately, the young football player “wanted to feel important.” Now, Achraf Hakimi said in the interview, he has gained that sense of being valuable to his team, and, even though he plays defense, he has been able to come through at decisive moments to change the game.
In his 12 games in the Bundesliga in the 2019-2020 football year, Hakimi has scored two goals, played for 83% of the minutes on average in a game, and been selected for the starting 11 three out of four times.
Growing up south of Madrid, Hakimi narrated how he spent all day playing “behind the ball” with his friends, painting goals onto houses. Born to Moroccan parents in Spain, Hakimi chose to represent Morocco instead of Spain in international football.