Following this week’s Football League awards it seems fitting that this feature is on the player who won the award for this season, Queens Park Rangers’ Adel Taarabt, a player that so far this season has scored 15 goals and captained his team within a short grasp of the Premier League.
At 21 Taarabt is one of the youngest to players to win such a prestigious award, an award that recognises him alongside previous winners such as Kevin Nolan, Kevin Phillips and Phil Jagielka. His manager Neil Warnock describes him as, “the most talented player that I have had under my wing in my entire 30-year management career,” not a bad reference coming from one of the most experienced managers in the country. The host of praises continue from his team mates, Shaun Derry, when questioned on Taarabt stated, “In this division you look for individual talent that can singlehandedly change games and you cannot look further than Taarabt. When we have needed a bit of magic to get back into a game, he has given us a bright spark by either scoring or creating a goal.”
Praise and awards such as these have not been ever-present in Taarabt’s early career, and the player has had to work hard to achieve what he has to date. The Moroccan-born midfielder grew up in France, after moving from his native Morocco aged 9 months. He signed for Lens however made just a handful of appearance before being signed by Tottenham Hotspur aged 17, with comparisons to greats such as Zidane. The period at Tottenham was, however, an unhappy one for Taarabt and after suffering setbacks such as not being given a squad number by the then Spurs manager Juande Ramos and after only making a minimal number of appearances, Taarabt made the loan move to QPR. After a string of appearances Taarabt clearly impressed and was signed on a season-long loan the following year, a season that would include 7 goals in 41 appearances. In the summer of 2010 Taarabt signed permanently for QPR, for a fee believed to be in the region of £1 million. It is this step down to the Championship that has seemingly rejuvenated the individual’s career, and spring boarded him onto the football world radar.
It is not just the return goal wise that has set Taarabt apart from his contemporaries this season, although 15 goals from an attacking midfielder with 8 games to go is a fantastic return, but the way he plays and the skill he possesses. Taarabt is one of the most technically gifted players to grace the Championship and his range of tricks and turns dazzle and amaze not only supporters but his team mates and opposition alike. The player does possess an attitude that Warnock’s predecessors struggled to deal with. However despite a few incidents in which his previous attitude issue has arisen, on the whole Taarabt and QPR have managed to control this and as such have reaped the rewards. Whilst Warnock has been integral in this, Taarabt has likened him to a father, credit must go to the player for constraining a weakness that has ruined many and threatened to ruin his career.
Taarabt is not a defensive player, his positional statistics show this, on some occasions he sulks and can be selfish, but any manager would be delighted to have this individual in their squad, a point emphasised by Warnock appointing the Moroccan as his captain, and their teams would be far better for it.