With the African Cup of Nations kicking off this week, NTOF will be looking at some of the most interesting African players to grace Scottish football. Next on the list is Hibs’ Moroccan magician Merouane Zemmama.
The playmaker’s palava
The Moroccan swapped Africa for Edinburgh in August 2006. Initially compared to Hibs legend Russell Latapy by Tony Mowbray, Zemmama was a classic second striker or number 10.
Trickery and flair in abundance, the eye for a killer pass. Zemmama really was a steal for the Hibees on a free transfer. However, he didn’t come without hassle.
Raja Casablanca, the Moroccan giants, claimed that their countryman’s move to the Scottish capital was illegal as he was supposedly under contract until 2009, which therefore caused the Royal Moroccan Football Federation to get involved.
They later announced that they had suspended the player and would investigate the transfer. FIFA went on to state that Zemmama could continue to be selected for Hibs during the investigation.
Apparently signed to help Abdessalam Benjelloun settle in Scotland, the Moroccans proved menaces for Mowbray’s side going forward. It was under John Collins, his successor, that the capital club would win lift some silverware. Zemmama made a late contribution in the 2007 League Cup final as Hibs registered a 5-1 victory over Kilmarnock.
His compatriot bagged a brace as Hibs ran riot at the national stadium. In fairness to Zemmama, despite only playing just over 10 minutes, he played a helping hand in Hibs grabbing two further goals at 3-1 up. One of which was scored by his club and international teammate, ‘Benji’.
Zemmama the Moroccan menace
Only seven caps for Morocco, it could’ve and should’ve been more but due to that dispute when joining Hibs, the Moroccan Football Federation had initially banned him from representing his nation.
Following the dispute’s resolution, he would score a minute into his international debut, a 2010 World Cup qualifier against fellow Africans Mauritania.
Merouane moved to Middlesbrough
Hibs would make a rumoured £200,000 profit following Tony Mowbray opting to sign the playmaker for a second time, this time as Boro boss.
A player easy on the eye, Zemmama will always be remembered in the capital for helping the Hibees lift their third, and most recent, League Cup.