Mustapha El Haddaoui (Morocco)
Portraits of legendary footballers
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Spotted during an inter-district championship, he was recruited by the famous 'Raja Casablanca', a club in which he made his professional debut during the 1979-1980 season.
His performances, both in the club and with the Atlas Lions, attracted the European recruiters (Lausanne, Saint-Etienne).
SNRT - Coproduction
- COPEAM - Coproduction
Sport and games
Credits / Cast
- Haddouz Abdelhadi - Journalist
- Regragui Driss - Journalist
- France - South East - Saint-Etienne
Mustapha El Haddaoui
Mustapha El Haddaoui belongs to a generation of footballers who helped bring glory to the Moroccan national squad between 1980-1990. He was at his best in the national team for, even though he played for some of the best French clubs, he was not at his height.
He was born in Casablanca on July 28 1961, and that was where his career began. As a teenager, he admired Ferras Ahmed, center-forward with Chabab Mohammedia who, with the "Lions of Atlas", clinched Morocco’s first international title by winning the 1976 African Nations Cup. El Haddaoui was a midfield player for Raja Casablanca in 1979. Founded in 1949 in trade union circles, Raja was one of the two biggest clubs in Casablanca – Widad Athletic Club (WAC) the other. Under the leadership of Mohamed Ben Lahcen Affani, better known as "Father Jego," the coach who had transferred from one Casablanca club to the other, Raja built a reputation in the 1960’s for spectacular football, heavily influenced by the South American style. Unlike some of his teammates in the national team, El Haddaoui was hunted by European clubs even before the 1986 World Cup. In 1985 he signed with Lausanne, using a chain of recruitment which had gradually grown up between Morocco and Switzerland since Mustapha Yagcha joined Chênois CS back in 1974. The same connections helped bring across internationals Mohamed Safri and Aziz Bouderbala. El Haddaoui was one of the first Moroccan players to be picked by a Swiss scout working for a corporation taking an increasing interest in professional football.
The 1986 Mexican World Cup drew the eyes of French clubs in particular. The Moroccan team hadn’t played in the final phase since 1970, and that had been the first time an African team had played since Egypt in 1934. In Mexico they created the surprise of the series by qualifying for the second round (another first for Africa). They were knocked out by West Germany by one goal to nil scored in the final minute of normal time. Following this performance, El Haddaoui was recruited by Saint-Etienne, the great French club of the 60’s and 70’s. But "The Greens", ten times champions of France, adored for their "epic" in the 1975-76 European Cup, no longer had the same lustre. Michel Platini’s departure, but even more "the black box affair” which broke in 1982, shook the club. In this context, getting fourth place in the 1987 French League Championship seemed a good result, but nothing more. El Haddaoui left for OGC Nice, another club with a glorious past (four championships in the 1950s), which Chairman Mario Innocentini was trying to keep afloat. In vain. When El Haddaoui left the "Eaglets" in 1990, the club’s precarious finances meant it was relegated to the second division. At Lens, with a culture rooted in the northern coalfields, he found a public who adored him, but the club was also being rebuilt after its own financial difficulties. Chaired by businessman Gervais Martel, El Haddaoui helped the club to recover, but left before it managed to reach the European competitions. After playing again in the World Cup (1994 –eliminated the first round), El Haddaoui ended his career in France playing for the second division club Angers Sporting Club de l'Ouest (1995-1996), before a final season on the island Reunion.
Very attached to his home country, El Haddaoui returned to Morocco to become a coach, having played 185 games in France's first division and worn the national slip 46 times.
Moroccan athletes in the world. Histories and current issues. Act of the international conference in Casablanca, 24-25 July 2010, Paris-Casablanca-Seguier The Crossroads, 2011, 203 p.
Yvan Gastaut, Claude Boli, Grognet Fabrizio (ed.), Allez France! Sculptures and Paris, Gallimard, CNHI-National Sports Museum, 2010, 191 p.
Ghizlanzoni L., Lions of the Atlas, in Morocco Football, Milan. Lak International Edition, 1994.
Raffaele Poli, "The North African footballers in Switzerland", Migrance, No. 29, 2008, p.76 to 83.