Man Utd’s teenage record-breaker Zidane Iqbal makes senior international debut

Zidane Iqbal made his Manchester United debut under Ralf Rangnick in the Champions League, and the youngster was eligible to play for three different international sides

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  • 17:14, 27 Jan 2022
  • Updated17:19, 27 Jan 2022
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Zidane Iqbal made history in December when he became the first player of south Asian descent to represent Manchester United, and the teenager has taken another big step in his young career.

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Iqbal made his United bow as a late substitute in the Champions League draw with Young Boys, a game which also saw fellow youngster Charlie Savage handed a first-team debut.

The 18-year-old was eligible for three international teams, having been born in Manchester to parents from Pakistan and Iraq, but opted for his mother's country when it came to making a decision on his international career.

He was called into Iraq's camp for their World Cup qualifying double-header against Iran and Lebanon, and made his first appearance for his national side at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

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Iqbal has featured regularly for United's under-23s
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Image:
Manchester United via Getty Imag)

“It’s another milestone I’m going to hit, my first-team debut for Iraq. I’m looking forward to it and it’s a big game, so hopefully we can win,” Iqbal told manutd.com before the Iran game.

“Me choosing to play for Iraq doesn’t mean I’m not a proud Mancunian or a proud Pakistani.

"I just feel this is the right opportunity for me as a player, the right step in my career and an honour, but it definitely doesn’t take away the fact that I’m a Mancunian and a Pakistani as well.”

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Iqbal replaced Jesse Lingard in the closing stages of the Young Boys game to mark his first senior minutes in a United shirt, describing the game as a "special moment" in an Instagram post at the time.

He has also featured for the age group sides in Premier League 2, the Papa John's Trophy and the Europa Youth League this season, scoring in all three competitions.

His Premier League 2 goal came against Brighton, where he played in a United side which also included the likes of Anthony Elanga and Phil Jones.

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Iqbal was named among the substitutes for Iraq as they travelled to qualifying group leaders Iran.

He replaced Hasan Matrook for the final eight minutes, with his team trailing 1-0, but they were unable to find an equaliser.

Iraq can no longer qualify directly for the World Cup from their group, but they still have an outside chance of reaching the inter-confederational play-offs for a place at Qatar 2022.

They will be back in action on February 1, playing Lebanon away from home, and defeat in that game would all but end their hopes of reaching the tournament.

Iraq have only made the World Cup finals on one previous occasion, reaching the group stages in 1986 but losing all three games to fall at the first hurdle.

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