Since arriving at Borussia Dortmund on loan from Real Madrid at the start of the 2018/19 season, Achraf Hakimi has undoubtedly gone from precocious prospect to outright star.
While his dramatic rise to fame over the last two years at the Signal Iduna Park has been well-documented, there's a lot more to the turbo-charged Moroccan wing-back than his stunning speed and versatility. Let bundesliga.com tell you more about Hakimi...
1) Madrid-born Moroccan
Hakimi sees himself as both a Madridista and Moroccan. His parents moved from a Moroccan village in the vicinity of Casablanca to the industrial sector of Madrid at a young age "to build a better life for themselves," according to their son. "They came from areas where there is hardly any work. They had to fight enormously hard. I have no words to describe my parents."
While Hakimi was born and raised in Madrid, he represents Morocco on the international stage rather than Spain and has made 28 appearances for his chosen national team since making his debut in October 2016. "I simply felt that it would be better to play with Morocco," Hakimi told bundesliga.com. "Earlier in my career I had the chance to play for Spain, they got in touch with me and I had to talk to my agents, my family and a think about things. I'm proud to be a Moroccan in the Bundesliga now."
2) A Real letter in the post
Despite the best efforts of his mother – "when I was young my mother tried to get me into judo or swimming, I told her it had to be football" - Hakimi began his footballing life at CD Colonia Ofigevi. In 2006, at just seven years of age, he joined Real the old-fashioned way, with Hakimi receiving in invitation for a trial via a letter in the post. In Getafe, the industrial suburb of Madrid where he and his family lived, his father had seen a Real Madrid letterhead in the post and brought it inside. "I honestly thought that it was a lie and that my father was pulling my leg," Hakimi later said.
It was no prank. The letter was a formal invitation, with Real wanting to see how Achraf would fare against the most talented players in the city. He took his chance with both hands, earning a contract with the club and going on to make his professional debut in October 2017, aged just 18.
3) A favourite of the Zidanes
Hakimi was handed his debut for Real by football legend Zinedine Zidane. "I'm grateful to him for his faith in me and the way he has treated me," Hakimi explained. "I'll always be grateful to him."
What made it all the more special for Hakimi is that he is also best friends with Zidane's son, Luca. The pair have played together at Real since Hakimi joined aged and have progressed through every age group side by side. "I get on really well with Luca because we've played together since we were seven or eight years old," Hakimi told BVB's YouTube channel.
4) Bundesliga's fastest player ever
Hakimi proved how ridiculously quick he is when he set a new speed record in the Bundesliga on Matchday 16 of 2019/20. The 21-year-old clocked a top speed of 22.5 mph in Dortmund's gripping 3-3 draw at home to RB Leipzig, making him the fastest player ever recorded in Germany's top flight since detailed data collection began in 2011/12.
"His speed is incredible," said Dortmund captain Marco Reus - himself no slouch - earlier this season. "Achraf is a real weapon for us."
5) Gamer boy
The youngster’s talents have also been on display in the virtual world. Hakimi showed off his gaming talents in the Bundesliga Home Challenge – a FIFA tournament set-up during the coronavirus pandemic across the Bundesliga – for Dortmund. Hakimi made three appearances in the tournament, although it's fair to say that his biggest love in the gaming world is Fortnite.
Watch: Highlights of Hakimi's big win in the Bundesliga Home Challenge!
Hakimi has a Twitch channel where he streams himself playing the game on a regular basis, and even set-up a Fortnite charity tournament to raise money for families in his hometown of Getafe during the coronavirus. The likes of former Dortmund teammate Paco Alcacer, Bayern Munich's Lucas Hernandez and Real's Thibaut Courtois were involved.
6) African Youth Player of the Year 2018 and 2019
Hakimi has won the affections of fans at club level for some time now - both Dortmund and Real - but the talented full-back-turned winger is also appreciated at international level, being named the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) 2019 African Youth Player of the Year in January.
He beat former Wolfsburg forward Victor Osimhen (Lille/Nigeria) and midfielder Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal/Nigeria) to reclaim the prize he also won in 2018.
7) Idolising Marcelo
Playing at Real for such a long time, Hakimi was around to an array of world-class talent throughout the club for him to study during his upbringing. The one he idolised above all else, though, was Brazilian left-back Marcelo.
"I really like Marcelo because he plays in the same position as me and he's a bit like me," Hakimi explained. "He's a really happy person off and on the pitch. I'd like to give off the same confidence he does. I played with him and I was proud and honoured to do that because he's the best left-back around and I learned a lot from the advice he gave."
8) From striker to full-back and beyond
It's no wonder that Hakimi has the ability to play in several different positions at the highest level when you learn about the positions he played as a youngster. "I was a striker when I started out at six or seven, by 14 or 15 I was on the wing and then at 16 or 17 I was switched to full-back, which is where I still am today," Hakimi told bundesliga.com. I think it's a change that worked out pretty well!"
Watch: Hakimi's role in the Dortmund attack!
But despite being brought deeper as he has matured, Hakimi certainly makes the most of the attacking instincts he learnt as a youngster, helping him become one of world football's deadliest wing-backs. Hakimi has three goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga after 25 matches of the 2019/20 season, and also boasts four UEFA Champions League strikes. He's the only BVB player to have appeared in every competitive match in 2019/20, whether he has featured at right-back, left-back, right midfield and left midfield. No matter where Hakimi plays, he always has an impact on the game.
9) Muslim faith
Hakimi is a devout Muslim and observes Ramadan – the Muslim practice of fasting for a month through April and May – every year. "I think I made the decision to play for Morocco because it's where my parents come from, how they raised me in a Moroccan, Muslim home, so I thought I'd be more comfortable playing for the Morocco national team," Hakimi said.
10) Young family man
Despite being only 21, Hakimi has matured dramatically on and off the pitch during his time in Dortmund. He and his partner have welcomed their first child to the world, born in Dortmund, and live at home with a chocolate Labrador dog named Raï – who even has his own Instagram page with over 12,000 followers. Hakimi himself has almost three million followers on the platform.