Walid Al-Rakraki is the first Arab coach to reach the second round of the World Cup. Who’s he?

Walid Rekragui is a former professional Moroccan soccer player, born on September 23, 1975 in France. He was a right back. He played for many French teams, Spanish Racing Santander and the Moroccan national team. He became a football coach after retiring from playing.

He has coached many teams and on 31 August 2022, he was appointed as the head of technical management of the Moroccan national football team to lead the Atlas Lions in the 2022 World Cup and take them to the Arab World Cup in Qatar.

Birth and upbringing

Walid Regragui was born on September 23, 1975 in Corbeil-Esson, located on the Seine River, in the suburbs of the French capital, Paris.

He grew up in the Montconsay district in a Moroccan family originating from the city of Fnideq in northern Morocco. He has dual French and Moroccan citizenship.

He trained at his hometown club and then joined “Racing Club de France” or what is known as “Racing Paris” in 1999. This defender played for only 5 clubs during his professional career, 4 of which were in France, which are Toulouse, Ajaccio, Dijon and Grenoble. And one team in Spain is “Racing Santander” with which he spent 3 years from 2004 to 2007.

He was injured immediately after signing for the Spanish team and did not appear in the Spanish league until January 2005 at the Camp Nou against Barcelona, ​​in 2010 Al-Rakraki ended his professional football career, but continued to train for an amateur level with the team for a while “Flory”. Merogis” on the outskirts of Paris, before going to training and passing the exams to obtain a coaching certificate.

Walid Regragui grew up early with a passion for football. He played for the team “Courbay Essonne”, the team of the region where he was born, under the leadership of the veteran French coach “Rudy Garcia”, who is credited with discovering him by chance while coaching the first team of Courbay Essonne.

Walid played in the first team for two seasons, but was still far from a star, after which he moved to the “Racing de Paris” team, which is a third-tier club, and there he was noticed by the French football club Toulouse. , and worked to include him in the team at the age of 23, which was a “late” start to his professional career.

He reached his highest level with the team and joined the Moroccan national football team under Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho in December 2000, but El Kerraki’s professional journey witnessed some setbacks, especially when the French club terminated his contract after 3 seasons due to financial problems due to sanction. The tax that was imposed on the club from Toulouse, forced it to reduce the number of its players.

Because of this, Walid Al-Karaki suffered from the problem of unemployment, because he was left without a team for 6 months, due to which he was absent from the Moroccan national football team and thus missed the participation in the African Cup of Nations in 2002, which was hosted by the country of Mali.

At that time, he needed a team to return to the national team and continue his career, and he finally found a solution in the second division French club Ajaccio, with which he signed a contract at the end of 2001 and enabled him to return and continue his football career.

Walid Regragui rose from the team with “Ajaccio” to the first division of the French league and established himself as one of the main elements of the team, and from there the path was paved for him to return to the Moroccan national football team.

At this stage, the former international goalkeeper Badou Zaki became the first coach of the Atlas Lions, succeeding the Portuguese Humberto Coelho, and the human composition of the Moroccan national team included a new generation.

And within this reconstructed group, Walid Al-Rakraki was a strong presence, especially after the great levels he represented with his team in the French league.

With the Moroccan national team, under the leadership of Badou Zaki, Regragui won a ticket to the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 2004. His sense of humor and ease of communication with him made him an irreplaceable element within the group, and thus created an atmosphere of fun as part of the preparations gatherings of the Moroccan football team.

On the field, Rekragui embodied the true and full meaning of the term “corridor player”, capable of repelling the opposing team’s attackers and renewing attacks, overtaking or positioning.

His readiness and great giving strongly contributed to the efficiency of the right corridor of Atlas Lions, which was confirmed in the historic match of the Moroccan national team against the Algerian counterpart in the final of the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, where he was chosen as the best player of the match, and was also selected in the ideal line-up. of this version. From the African Cup of Nations, at the end of which he played with the Moroccan national team against the Tunisian counterpart, where the latter won 2nd -1.

Regragui participated with the Moroccan national team in two editions of the African Cup of Nations in 2004 and 2006, but never participated in the World Cup competition as Morocco did not qualify for the competition from 1998 to 2018.

He participated in 45 international matches in which he scored one goal. He played his last match with the Atlas Lions on 20 June 2009 against the national team of Togo in a match between the two teams at the Prince Moulay Abdallah Stadium in Rabat. ended in a 0-0 draw in the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa.

On 29 May 2004, after a great performance with the Moroccan national team at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations held in Tunisia, where they reached the final against the host nation, Regragui moved to Racing Santander, who play in the Spanish league. first league.

However, 15 days before the start of the Spanish league, Walid Regragui was injured in an accident and was forced to miss half of the season in the Spanish league.

On 22 January 2005, Al-Ragraki played his first official match with the club at Camp Nou against FC Barcelona, ​​which featured Brazilian stars Ronaldinho Gaucho and Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o.

After that, Regragui suffered from repeated injuries and officially played only 9 league matches and one match in the Spanish Cup during the 2005–2006 season, thus losing his membership of the Racing Santander team.

After the expiration of his contract with Racing Santander in 2007, Walid Regragui returned to France from Dijon, with whom he signed for one season.

On September 25, 2007, Rekragui signed a new contract with Grenoble for 3 seasons.

On October 4, 2007, he played his first game with the team against Libourne, under the guidance of coach Misha Baydarevich.

On September 14, 2010, Walid signed a contract with the club Flory Merogis, which plays in the honorary amateur league, and played for them for 3 seasons, before ending his football career at the age of 36.

Regragui coach of the Moroccan national team

Regragui (left) during the presentation by the president of the Moroccan Football Federation as the coach of the Moroccan national team (Moroccan Press)

Jobs and Responsibilities

Before becoming the coach of the Moroccan national football team, Rekragui was an assistant coach in September 2012, when Moroccan coach Rachid Taoussi decided to include him in his technical team while the latter was coach of the Atlas Lions.

Regragui held that position until October 2013, after the Moroccan national team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

After experience as an assistant coach under Rachid Taoussi, Regraki took over the coaching of Morocco’s capital, Al-Fateh Sports Club, Rabat from June 2014 to the end of 2019, in his first experience as a coach, which is an exceptional period in a country where the phenomenon prevails changing coaches after a short period in which he won the title of Trone Cup in 2014, the Championship of the Moroccan Professional League in 2016 and the title of the best coach in the same year.

He immediately moved to the Qatar Stars League to coach Al-Duhail between January and October 2020, where he won the league title with the Qatari club.

In August 2021, Regraki signed a new one-year contract to coach Moroccan sports team Wydad, to succeed Tunisian coach Fawzi Benzarti, the year he won the African title by beating Egypt’s Al-Ahly team with two clean sheets in the final match, and Moroccan professional league title after equaling Mouloudio Oujda with two goals for the same in the last round of the league, and played in the final of the Trona Cup, which she lost when she was defeated on penalties against Nahdet Berkane.

On July 10, 2022, Regragui won the award for the best coach in the Moroccan professional championship, awarded by the Moroccan Football Federation, and on July 20, 2022, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) nominated him among the 3 best coaches in the African continent at the CAF awards, along with the Senegal coach Elio Cisse and the Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, who led the Egyptian national team, an award won by the Senegalese coach Elio Cisse.

On August 31, 2022, Walid Regraki was presented by the president of the Moroccan Football Association, Fawzi Lakjaa, as the first coach of the Moroccan national football team with a contract until June 30, 2025 and a monthly salary of 60,000 euros, during a press conference at the Mohammed VI sports complex in Rabat. coach Vahid Halilodžić, less than 3 months before the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Thus, Walid Regraki became the 14th Moroccan coach who has coached the Atlas Lions since 1957, and marked his notable participation in the World Cup in Qatar, as he became the first Arab coach to advance to the second round of the World Cup.

Al-Rakraki finished the first round of the World Cup with a 0-0 draw with Croatia (2018 World Cup runners-up), a 2-0 win over Belgium (second in the FIFA world rankings and third in the 2018 World Cup) and a win over Canada 2 -1, and his accounts agreed with Spain in the price role.

Certificates and awards

Al-Rakraki believes:

CAF A ​​or CAF Pro training certificate.

Baccalaureate degree (science stream).

DEUG General University Diploma in Economics and Social Sciences.

In addition, Regragui speaks 4 languages ​​fluently: French, Arabic, English and Spanish, and is therefore considered a man of communication par excellence, which facilitates the process of understanding with his players and his control over the management of the dressing room. .

He also received the following awards and titles:

When he was a player:

Champion of the French league, second division, with Ajaccio in 2002.

Runner-up at the African Cup of Nations with the Moroccan national team in 2004.

The best defender of the French second division in 2002.

The best defender of the African Cup of Nations in 2004.

The best Moroccan defender in 2007.

The best player in the history of Fleury Merogis in 2011.

During his tenure as coach:

Trone Cup with Al-Fateh Sports Club Rabat 2014.

Moroccan Professional League Championship with Al-Fateh Sports Club, Rabat 2016.

Qatar Stars League Championship with Al-Duhail Club 2020.

Moroccan Professional League Championship with Wydad Athletic Club Casablanca 2022.

African Champions League title with Wydad Casablanca in 2022.

Trone Cup runner-up with Wydad Casablanca 2022.

“Mars D’or” award for the best Moroccan coach for 2014 and 2015.

“Tournament” award for the best Moroccan coach for 2016 and 2022.

Award of the Moroccan Football Association for the best coach in 2022.

He was selected for the Confederation of African Football “CAF” award among the best 3 coaches in Africa in 2022.

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