Manchester United’s Zidane Iqbal has revealed his pride as he prepares to make his senior international debut.
The midfielder, of Pakistani and Iraqi heritage, is poised to play his first game for Iraq on Thursday.
Iqbal, 18, flew to join the squad on Sunday and could make his debut when Iraq, the country of his mother’s birth, face Iran in a crucial World Cup qualifier at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
“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,” he told manutd.com.
“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.”
Iqbal became the first British South Asian to play for United, as a late substitute against Young Boys in the Champions League in December.
“It was massive but it’s not something I really focused on since I was young,” he said.
“I just enjoyed the sport and didn’t really think too much about that, and as I got older I realised that I was the first South Asian, so it’s a great thing.
"But ultimately, it’s just a lot of hard work that got me there.
“The support has been great. I’ve had so many messages that I can’t read through them all. But the ones I have read have been really good and positive, and hopefully I can keep it up and just excel from here.”