Last night’s encounter between Manchester United and Young Boys ended in an unceremonious 1-1 draw, the biggest talking point being the inaugural appearance of Zidane Iqbal in the Red Devils jersey.
With a qualification from the group already confirmed, Ralf Rangnick decided to hand the teenager a Champions League debut by bringing him on in the closing stages of the game.
Replacing Jesse Lingard, the Manchester-born midfielder became the first British South Asian to make an appearance for the club.
The teenager’s debut, momentous as it was, brought with it a plethora of debates on social media, with discussion over the midfielder’s ancestry taking centre stage.
Some fans were quick to adjudge him as a Pakistani while others presumed him to be of Iraqi origin.
Interestingly, Iqbal, who has a Pakistani father and Iraqi mother, shares a common association with both countries. However, speculations were rife even before his debut last night about him representing Iraq at the senior international level.
Iqbal has already represented the Middle Eastern nation at under-23 level last month at the West Asian Football Federation Championship. In fact, he even captained his side against Lebanon in the competition.
Technically eligible to play for England, Pakistan and Iraq, Iqbal hasn’t received a call up from the Three Lions yet. And with the Iraqi football chief interested in securing the midfielder’s service at the top level, the possibility of seeing Iqbal don Iraq’s classic green and white is highly likely.
Additionally, Iqbal has held Iraqi citizenship since May 2021, meaning a representation at the senior international level is more or less just a matter of time.
With a promising career ahead, it’d be interesting to see if the teenager lives up to his legendary namesake, never mind as a United player or Iraq’s.