Sitting in the stands with a baseball cap protecting his shaven head from the sun is an African Footballer of the Year.

Mustapha Hadji no longer sports those glorious locks that made him stand out in the Premier League, not that he needed them when he arrived in England in 1999. He was the golden boy of his continent — the equivalent of Mohamed Salah today.

A long line of superstars have held the coveted title but Hadji — after his explosive performances at the 1998 World Cup — remains the only Moroccan on the list since the award was brought under the auspices of African football’s governing body CAF in 1992.

Following his retirement, Hadji is now inspiring the next generation of Moroccan footballers as assistant manager of the national team. He schedules this interview between a coaching session with a group of talented youngsters.



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