Zidane Iqbal leaves Man Utd and joins Dutch side FC Utrecht


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Manchester United trailblazer Zidane Iqbal has completed his move to FC Utrecht.

Academy graduate Iqbal, 20, has joined the Dutch outfit after they reached agreement with Man Utd over the transfer last week.

Iqbal made history in December 2021 when he appeared in the Champions League clash with Young Boys to become the first British South Asian to play for Manchester United. He is also thought to be the first Iraqi-heritage player to turn out for United.

The Mancunian appeared on United’s Premier League bench on seven occasions last season after impressing during their pre-season tour as well as on their trip to Dubai during the mid-season break.

Iqbal, whose mother is Iraqi and father is Pakistani, spent more than a decade at United, starting out at one of the club’s development squads before playing in every age-group and going on to represent the first team in the Champions League.

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Zidane Iqbal paid tribute to his friends, family and coaches on social media after becoming the first British South Asian ever to play for Manchester United.

The midfielder, who penned a new United contract last season, was never selected for England at youth level, with Sky Sports exclusively revealing at the beginning of last year that Iqbal was set to be capped by Iraq.

Iqbal is now a fully-fledged Iraq international but was unable to play for Pakistan at the time due to a FIFA ban for third-party interference, although their international status has now been reinstated.

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Iqbal: I will always love Manchester United

Manchester United's Zidane Iqbal during the pre-season friendly match at Old Trafford, Manchester. P

In an emotional farewell to Manchester United, Iqbal wrote:

“Manchester United has been my home since I was five years old. Alongside my family, this club has developed me into the person that I am today.

“From the Cliff to Carrington and then to the Theatre Of Dreams (Old Trafford), I have so many incredible memories of my 15 years associated with this amazing club.

“I have had the opportunity to play with so many team-mates, that I will now always call friends, and worked with coaches who always supported me in so many different ways.

“There are too many people to thank. Kitmen, physios, teachers, chefs, nutritionists, security staff, coaches and everyone else in between, they’ve all played their role in making me the player that I am today. They know who they are and know how much they mean to me and my family. We’ll be forever grateful.

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Manchester United youngster Zidane Iqbal was destined to achieve big things in the game, says his first football coach Stewart Hamer.

“The Academy is a special place that makes dreams come true for so many. That was certainly the case for me. I’ll never forget standing on the touchline at Theatre Of Dreams (OT), waiting to come on for my debut. That feeling of pride will live with me forever.

“Representing Manchester United in Europe is one of the biggest honours you can have in your career. People don’t realise the amount of work and dedication that goes into achieving a debut and living out your dream.

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Manchester United’s Zidane Iqbal said he is proud of his diverse heritage and upbringing ahead of making his international debut for Iraq away in Iran (courtesy of MUTV)

“The fans were amazing with me that day. You’ve always given such love and support to myself and my family. Trust me, it did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I’ll always be a United fan and I’ll always love this football club.

“The time is right to go and take on a new challenge. It is one that I cannot wait for and I’ll be applying myself with the same level of desire, determination and dedication that has taken me this far in my career.”

‘Iqbal leaves Man Utd a hero’

Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan:

He only made one substitute appearance but make no mistake, Zidane Iqbal leaves Manchester United as a hero.

The reaction when Sky Sports News broke the story that Iqbal was making history as the first British footballer from a South Asian background ever to represent Manchester United – and the outpouring of emotion that went with it – was something truly epic.

Iqbal shattered a glass ceiling both for South Asians and Iraqis, realising the dreams of millions across the world in addition to his own when he made his United debut.

The midfielder’s association with United goes back well over a decade. He’s spent the majority of his life as part of the club, and today that comes to an end on what looks like his terms.

Iqbal could have taken the soft option and enjoyed the prestige of remaining a Manchester United player. He’s trained with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro in recent years, and was inching closer towards his Premier League debut for the club.

Manchester United's Zidane Iqbal competes of the ball during the soccer match between Manchester United and Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia, Friday, July 15, 2022.

But Iqbal has forsaken that opportunity, choosing to move to Utrecht – who United boss Erik ten Hag has previously played for and managed – and becoming the latest player to seek out a move to the continent in a bid to kickstart his career.

That bravery is something that should be applauded. Iqbal has played for United and has nothing to prove to anyone other than himself. He should get some of those answers in the Dutch Eredivisie next season.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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