The quiet godfather of Moroccan football has been viewing it all unfold from afar. Nasser Larguet, a thoughtful 64-year-old devoted to developing the match, may not be globally renowned, but his work has been making waves. Fourteen years ago, at the request of the King of Morocco, Larguet took on a task to boost the nation’s football. He already had abundant skill in academies in France, and he set about making an elite production line for young capacity in Morocco.
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When Morocco’s head trainer Walid Regragui directs his players out against France in the Football World Cup semi-final this evening, the roots of that moment date back to the months Larguet expended traveling across the state to find the most promising boys for the Mohammed VI Academy, a complex designed to produce top footballers. He viewed 15,000 children between the age of 10-15 in the process, whittling them down to select the first intake.
Larguet, who hails from Sidi Slimane, a small agricultural city in the north of Morocco, is presently the technical manager of the Saudi Arabia football squad. (The additional you learn about him, the more obvious it is a country as ambitious as Saudi would turn to him to lead their own football transformation.) He was with Saudi’s under-15s squad at a tournament in Spain when Morocco had their historic victory over Portugal to make it into the Football World Cup semi-finals. He viewed the game on television, overcome with emotion like a proud father.
My heart was beating so strongly, he speaks. To view this revolution with these players and this football coach was extraordinary. They played with great intelligence, and a lot of unity, and when I saw one of the academy players, Youssef En-Nesyri, score the goal with a fine header, I was the happiest man in the world. Larguet is the perfect guide to describe how Morocco has reinvented itself in the national phase. He effectively produced a blueprint for other emerging states with big concepts. The fundamental necessities are a generous financier, brilliant and dedicated people to run a serious and carefully constructed program, and the patience to plant the seeds and nurture them with care until they blossom.
It all started in 2007. It was for a project moved by the King of Morocco, his dignity Mohammed VI, who is very attentive to sport, as Larguet defines. He was aware that, regrettably, Morocco was in a period when they did not often qualify for the African Cup of Nations or the Football World Cup and touched the conclusion that it was significant to attention on the development of players. I was selected to lead the project. We expended two years constructing the academy.
After that, I traveled around the state to find the right players. In 2009, we were ready to open and the initial generation arrived for us to get to work to produce players like En-Nesyri, (Azzedine) Ounahi, (Nayef) Aguerd, (Ahmed Reda) Tagnaouti, boys who are nowadays in the national squad. Certain criteria were essential in educating trainers and facilitators were as vital as helping the young players to grow. Maintaining a high level of schoolwork alongside football work was so significant that some students were not carefully chosen because their academic skill was too far behind their necessities. Larguet’s philosophy is simple to have very good players, you want very good trainers and very good educators.
We needed the academy to also contain all the parameters wanted to develop youngsters on a social level, in education where they continued to study, and of course football. It all happened at a similar place. Our objective was true to give them the best chance in football but also to advance the several youth football phases, under-17, under-20, Olympic squad, and first lineup. Each intake of boarders for the innovative academy comes in at the age of 12 and can continue until the age of 18.
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For the age level previously, Larguet opened four mini-centers for younger players in main hubs around the state, which were in Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fez, and Tangier. “We make those players from the age of 9-12, to offer regular training and the best of those graduate to the academy. Once the academy was up and running, Larguet convinced Herve Renard to join the project (the trainer followed Larguet to Saudi Arabia, where he is the head trainer of the national squad).
He earmarked Regragui as a coaching gift and recruited him for the initial group to take the CAF’s professional license. He also scoured Europe for players eligible for Morocco and persuaded various born or living overseas to signify the state of their family origins. A phone call to Zinedine Zidane helped smooth the path for Madrid-born Achraf Hakimi to select Morocco. Sofyan Amrabat, so impressive in this tournament, and Noussair Mazraoui, both born in the Netherlands, also agreed. France-born Sofiane Boufal is another. Larguet’s influence on the present Morocco squad is massive.
He is certain that this Football World Cup marks a significant step in how African squads and trainers are perceived. The players and the football coach have created this respect, he says. Everybody can see that African squads are going up in the world. It displays to African football and the Arab world that nothing is impossible. It is an example to follow.
Could this program be a touchstone for other states? Yes, of course, he speaks. Some academies are already doing good work, mainly in Senegal, while Ghana and Algeria are better in that respect. But I do trust the academy in Morocco is ahead of the rest. It is possible to emulate but needs financing to do it. Each state has its own particularities. Saudi Arabia is a large state with a great deal of potential and a lot of desire.
Their opening competition in this Football World Cup against Argentina displayed they have quality players. The president of the Federation has a plan and we recruit people to drive that. They are watching already the following Football World Cup and progressing like Morocco. Lerguet will be current at Doha to observe his old proteges carrying the flag for their country, as the world is today intrigued to view how far they can go.
I am extremely satisfied and very glad for the players and for the trainer because he is someone who grew with us to become the football coach of the national lineup. He has great qualities. There are players who were in the academy at 12 and are today wearing the colors of Morocco at the Football World Cup and playing in a semi-final against France. Nobody, as the anthem plays in the stadium tonight, will be as proud as the man who kickstarted it all.
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