Zidane Iqbal grew up idolising Mesut Ozil, studies Frenkie de Jong and is an Iraq international. Zidane Iqbal is already a trailblazer for Manchester United.
Thousands of Manchester United fans had congregated in Federation Square in Melbourne on Saturday night for the unveiling of the team’s new away jersey.
Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were among the first-team players to attend for the big announcement, so the ecstatic compère sought to rouse the fans by shouting questions into the audience through her microphone.
Players have you enjoyed seeing on tour thus far, according to one of the questions?
The most common response was “Bruno!” A few spectators yelled out, “Sancho.”
One supporter yelled, “Zidane!”
Of course, the little fan was not talking to the well-known Frenchman who won the World Cup.
Instead, he was declaring his admiration for offensive midfielder Zidane Iqbal, 19, who has emerged as one of the standouts of United’s 2.5-week tour of Thailand and Australia.
Iqbal seems to be a well-liked player across the entire fan base. After a friendly victory against Melbourne Victory on Friday afternoon by a score of 4-1, United invited their fans to vote for the player of the match. Given that 21 players from Manchester United participated in the contest, Iqbal’s victory with 25% of the vote was considered a significant show of confidence.
The most impressive element of his performance occurred 12 minutes into the second half when he turned 360 degrees on the ball to go past another opponent after shrugging off a Melbourne defender.
The 74,000-person crowd at the MCG was in awe of the showy feat of expertise.
Iqbal’s ability to hold onto the ball was what Erik ten Hag found to be most impressive. The adolescent kept the ball under control and worked nicely with Charlie Savage, Robbie Savage’s kid. Since Iqbal joined the team at the age of nine after getting noticed while competing for Sale United, the two have played together.
“Playing for United is the best feeling,” Iqbal said.
“I have grown up loving this club. To play in front of so many people, it is something I dreamed of. I have told myself: ‘This could be the only chance I get in the first team’. I will just try to do my best on the pitch and leave it up to God really.”
Zidane Iqbal first became interested in football while seeing his father play five-a-side.
Iqbal’s mother is from Iraq, while his father is from Pakistan. The kid had the option of playing for England but chose Iraq instead. He earned his senior debut against Iran in January.
Iqbal, a devout Muslim, names Mesut Ozil as his idol.
Iqbal made his United debut in the Champions League semifinal against Young Boys, coming off the bench. He made history by participating in the competition as the first South Asian British player ever.
He is something of a reluctant poster boy for his community.
“I am just trying to take my journey on. Whatever is meant to be,” Iqbal said. “If I am inspiring people along the way, that is brilliant. Obviously there are not many south Asians playing but if you are good enough, I believe you will make it no matter where you come from. I don’t pay too much attention to it.”
Iqbal has also made an impression on Ten Hag. Last week, during a training session in Bangkok, the midfielder expertly outwitted the Brazil international with a drop of the shoulder before sliding the ball into the goal, leaving Fred on his bottom.
Given the options in midfield that Ten Hag has in Fred, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, and Christian Eriksen, as well as the potential arrival of Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, Ten Hag may choose to loan Iqbal to another team in order to give him more playing time.
Iqbal, whose contract runs until 2025, said, “I am not sure what’s going to happen.” “If the chance to take out a loan presented itself, I would assess the benefits and drawbacks. It is too early to say at this time.