Marouane Chamakh

Marouane Chamakh   born 10 January 1984) is a footballer who plays for English club Crystal Palace in the Premier League and the Moroccan national team as a striker. He is described as a prototypical target man and is noted for his “tall stature” and “excellent heading ability”.[3][4]Chamakh started his career training throughout various clubs in the Aquitaine region. In 2000, he signed with Bordeaux. Chamakh made his professional debut for the club in the 2002–03 season. He spent nine years at the club and helped Bordeaux win the Coupe de la Ligue in 2007.
 
In the 2008–09 season, Chamakh won his first league title as Bordeaux were crowned champions for the first time since the 1998–99 season. The club also won the Coupe de la Ligue completing the league and league cup double. In May 2010, Chamakh joined Arsenal of the Premier League on a free transfer after agreeing to a four-year contract with the club. In October 2010, Chamakh became the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score in six consecutive matches.[5]Although born and raised in France, Chamakh chose to play international football for Morocco, because he had Moroccan parents.[6] He made his national team debut in July 2003 and has played at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, including the 2004 tournament in which Morocco finished runner-up. In August 2010, he captained the national team for the first time

Personal life

Chamakh was born in Tonneins, a small town near the Garonne River, to Moroccan parents, and was raised in the nearby commune of Aiguillon. His father, El Mostafa Chamakh, was a former footballer in Morocco and played for Difaâ Aïn Sbaâ in Casablanca.[8] In 1979, he left Morocco to locate more favorable living conditions and to find a better job.[9] After settling in France and finding work as a stonemason, the elder Chamakh brought his family over soon after.[10] Chamakh’s younger brother Yassin owns a café. Chamakh has stated that when he goes back home, he often waits tables to help out his brother.[10]While pursuing his career as a professional footballer, Chamakh was equally adept off the field earning good grades in school.
 
During his early years at Bordeaux, he began attending high school. He hoped to earn a Baccalauréat in accounting, which he later accomplished.[9] In addition to having a Baccalauréat, Chamakh is also very interested in politics and, in February 2010, voiced his support for the Democratic Movement (MoDem) political party ahead of the upcoming regional elections. In the 2010 regional elections, Chamakh was, surprisingly, listed as a candidate by the MoDem for the Gironde department in the Aquitaine region.[11] The lead deputy of the party, Jean Lassalle, stated on the decision to name Chamakh to the ballot: “I want to gather all the forces of Aquitaine to sustain our region, and Marouane is one of those forces who Aquitaine needs.”[12] Chamakh was listed as a non-eligible candidate on the ballot and Lasalle was accused of using Chamakh in order to garner votes from football supporters in the region.[13][14]Chamakh is a practising Muslim and has stated that “I have no problem fasting during Ramadan, it becomes normal. The day before a game and on match days I do not fast, but I’ll make up the lost days later.”[15]

Club career

Early career

Chamakh began his football career at the age of four playing for local club Nérac FC in the nearby commune of Nérac. While at Nérac, youth coaches at the club nicknamed him “Mr. George” after the former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah because Chamakh “used to score four or five goals in every tolka rovers game”.[10] After six years at Nérac, Chamakh joined FC Marmandais. While in Marmande, he developed his physical skills and traits, growing as tall as 6 ft (1.83 m) and also earning his first regional selection to play for the Aquitaine regional team in the Coupe Nationale.[9][16]

Bordeaux

 
In 2000, Chamakh was pursued by several professional clubs that wanted to obtain his services. He drew interest from Lens, Toulouse, Lorient, and Bordeaux. Chamakh eventually decided to sign with Bordeaux due to the club’s infrastructure and training facilities and also because of the close proximity to his family.[9] Upon his arrival, Chamakh was placed into the club’s youth academy. For the 2001–02 season, he was promoted to the club’s Championnat de France amateur 2 team in the fifth division. Chamakh was involved heavily in the campaign of the team, coached by Jean-Louis Garcia. He appeared in 17 matches and scored six goals as the team finished first in their group, thus earning promotion to the Championnat de France amateur.[17]
 
Following the season, Chamakh turned professional and signed a three-year contract with Bordeaux. He spent the first half of the 2002–03 campaign playing in the fourth division, but following the winter break, was called up to the senior team by manager Elie Baup. Chamakh made his professional debut on 19 January 2003 in the team’s Coupe de la Ligue match against Metz. He appeared as a substitute and played 15 minutes in a 1–0 defeat.[18] Chamakh made his league debut three weeks later in a 2–0 home defeat to Bastia again appearing as a substitute.[19] On 20 May, he scored his first professional goal against Nice, netting the equalizing goal just a minute before injury time in a 1–1 draw.[20] Chamakh appeared in 14 games, always as a substitute, during the campaign. In the 2003–04 season, he was promoted to the senior team permanently by new manager Michel Pavon and made his first professional league start on 1 November 2003 in a 1–0 win over Marseille.[21] In the team’s following match, Chamakh scored the opening goal in a 1–1 draw with Strasbourg just before halftime. However, mid-way through the second half, he received his first career red card after incurring a second yellow.[22] Upon returning from his one-game suspension, Chamakh developed into a regular starter for the club, scoring goals in consecutive matches against Metz and Montpellier.[23][24] He finished the league campaign with six goals in 25 matches. In the club’s UEFA Cup campaign, Chamakh netted four times in eight appearances.
 
In the 2004–05 season, Pavon decided to move Chamakh into the lead striker position and install Argentine playmaker Juan Pablo Francia as a support striker. The move was a success with Chamakh scoring ten league goals. He opened the campaign by scoring his first professional hat trick in a 5–1 victory over Nice.[25] In September 2004, Chamakh scored goals in back-to-back matches against Bastia and Derby de la Garonne rivals Toulouse.[26][27] He finished the campaign by scoring the opening goal in a 1–1 draw with Monaco.[28]
 
Despite the positive individual season from Chamakh, Bordeaux finished the campaign in 15th place; its worst finish since ending the league campaign in 16th over a decade before. Pavon, due to heart problems, stepped down from his position and was replaced by Ricardo Gomes. Under Gomes, Chamakh struggled to meet the success of his previous season scoring only 12 league goals in 58 matches over the course of two seasons. Two of his notable performances during Gomes’ reign included scoring a double in league matches against Metz and Nancy.[29] In the match against the former club, Chamakh scored both of his goals within a minute of each other. He was later ejected from the match after committing a red card offense.[30] Chamakh ended the 2006–07 Ligue 1 campaign by hoisting the Coupe de la Ligue trophy after featuring in the team’s 1–0 victory over Lyon in the final match.[31] It was Chamakh’s first major club honour..[7]
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