"I’m a Mancunian and a Pakistani as well.”
Manchester United’s Zidane Iqbal has spoken of his pride as he prepares to make his senior international debut.
The midfielder, who is of Pakistani and Iraqi heritage, is set to make his Iraq debut on January 27, 2022.
Iqbal joined up with the squad and could make his debut when Iraq, the country of his mother’s birth, face Iran in a crucial World Cup qualifier.
He told manutd.com: “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.
“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 made history when he became the first British South Asian to play for Manchester United when he came on as a substitute against Young Boys in the Champions League.
He recalled: “I found out the day before when the coach came up to me and he was like ‘you’re not going to be involved with the Under-19s.
“I was kind of surprised. Then he said ‘you’re going to be with the first team’.
“Loads of emotions burst through my body and, as soon as the conversation was over with my coach, I quickly contacted my mum, my dad, my brother.
“I was like, ‘look, there’s a good chance I could be playing for the first team tomorrow’.
“I knew where they were sat. I knew where my friends were, where my parents were and my family.
“My mates got near the tunnel at the start, gave me a couple of high-fives before I ran out and then ran back to their seats. At the end of the game, I gave them a little thumbs-up.
“The nerves were crazy. Seeing all the fans watching the game, even when I was warming up, shouting your name and all the singing. It was everything I dreamed of and more, really.
“It was an amazing feeling. I’ve been dreaming of that day since I was a kid and for it to finally come true was amazing.
“Honestly, if I could describe that feeling I would but it’s very hard to describe.”
Zidane Iqbal added: “It was massive, but it’s not something I really focused on since I was young.
“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.”