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Premier League Cult Icons: Adel Taarabt

One of the most skilful players to have graced the Premier League, Moroccan Adel Taarabt lit up Loftus Road during his six year spell at QPR.

First arriving in English football at Tottenham in 2007, it was following a loan move to QPR two years later that Adel Taarabt's professional career really sprung into life.

Earning promotion to the Premier League with the Rs in 2010-11, the Moroccan was named the Championship's Player of the Year after registering an astounding 19 goals and 21 assists.

Taarabt's form for QPR in the Premier League was more up and down, but he remained a joy to watch when at the top of his game.

Adel Taarabt In Profile

Place of BirthMazguitam (Guercif province), Morocco
PositionAttacking midfielder
Premier League club(s)Tottenham, QPR, Fulham
Premier League appearances86
Premier League goals7
Premier League assists8
International caps30
Other notable clubsMilan, Benfica, Genoa, Al-Nasr SC

Journey into football

Born in the commune of Mazguitam in the Guercif Province in Morocco, Taarabt moved to the small town of Berre-l'Etang in the south of France with his family at a young age.

Joining Lens' academy setup as a teenager, Taarabt made 14 appearances for the club's B side in the French fourth tier, and made one senior appearance for the club during the 2006-07 season.

Taarabt's promise for Lens eventually caught the eye of Tottenham Hotspur, who signed the 17-year-old attacking midfielder on a loan to buy deal in January 2007.

Eventually declaring for Morocco's senior national team in 2009, Taarabt represented France at both Under 17s and Under 19s level.

Style of play

At the height of his powers at QPR, Taarabt would wreak havoc with his skill and trickery from an advanced midfield position.

At 6ft tall he was strong in stature, but it was his technical prowess which wowed supporters, with Taarabt famed for pulling off the most intricate of skill moves during matches.

He was also more than capable of proving the difference in the final third, as his 40 goal contributions during QPR's title-winning season in 2010-11 would attest to.

Taarabt was somewhat of an enigma, however, with his time in the Premier League with QPR plagued with inconsistency and disciplinary issues.

Taarabt spent seven years at Benfica between 2015 and 2022, making 129 appearances in total.

Best Premier League moment

Amidst several magical moments in the Premier League for QPR, Taarabt's wonder goal against Fulham in December 2012 stands above the rest.

With QPR having gone a record-breaking 16 matches without a win at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Taarabt delivered a sublime individual performance at Loftus Road with his brace enough to see Harry Redknapp's charges beat Fulham 2-1.

It was his second goal during this match which will live long in the memory, with Taarabt picking the ball up just inside the Fulham half, before eliminating Brede Hangeland and producing an audacious finish with the outside of his foot below Mark Schwarzer.

This showing from Taarabt was so dazzling that QPR boss Redknapp declared it as "one of the all-time great performances" from his perspective.

QPR Legacy

On the whole, Taarabt will be remembered by QPR fans as one of the most gifted players to have ever represented the club.

Captaining QPR to the Championship title in 2010-11, earning the club promotion back to the Premier League for the first time in 15 years, Taarabt's performances in this campaign distinguish him as one of the finest players England's second tier has ever seen.

Although Taarabt was unable to reach the same heights in the Premier League, he still had his moments, and played a key role in helping steer the Rs clear of relegation danger at the end of the 2011/12 season with crucial goals against Arsenal and former club Spurs.

Biggest career achievement

In the case of Adel Taarabt, it can be acknowledged that his natural talent outweighed the success he was able to achieve during his playing career.

Although he earned a Primeira Liga winner's medal with Benfica in 2018-19, Taarabt only had minimal involvement having made just six appearances across the campaign.

His crowning moment could therefore be argued to have arrived during QPR's Championship-winning season in 2010-11, during which Taarabt registered 40 goal contributions - 19 goals and 21 assists - earning the league's Player of the Year award.

Did you know?

Prior to signing for Tottenham from Lens in 2007, Taarabt came very close to signing for Spurs' north London rivals Arsenal. 

The man who helped broker the deal to bring Taarabt to Tottenham, Spurs' director of football Damien Comolli, had first spotted Taarabt whilst a scout at the Gunners.

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