'I have a better strike rate than Lionel Messi at 33 but never made it to a top league'

Abderrazak Hamdallah has not played in Europe since leaving Aalesund in 2014 (Image: Getty)

Abderrazak Hamdallah is approaching the twilight of a curious career. Goals galore in a variety of far-flung leagues have failed to land him a crack at a top European division, despite finding the net at a more prolific rate than eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

Becoming known as ‘The Executioner’ doesn’t happen by accident. Moroccan-born Hamdallah was scoring goals in his homeland with Olympic Safi until the age of 22, at which point he spent a season in Norway with Aalesund.

A respectable haul of 15 league goals in 27 appearances may, in many other players’ cases, have resulted in a step up to a more glamorous European league. However, Hamdallah was instead signed by Chinese side Guangzhou City, which kick-started a decade-long spell in Asia and the Middle East which is still ongoing.

Scoring just shy of one goal per game on a long-term basis, Hamdallah spent time in Qatar with El Jaish and Saudi Arabia with Al-Rayyan before landing at Al-Nassr in 2018.

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Lionel Messi has a less prolific career strike rate than Abderrazak Hamdallah (Image: Getty)

Long before Cristiano Ronaldo landed at the Saudi side, Hamdallah was at the peak of his powers, notching a breathtaking 52 goals in just 36 games in the 2018/19 season. His three-campaign stint with the club saw him rack up 115 goals in 109 matches.

Moving from one Saudi Pro League heavyweight to another, Hamdallah joined Al-Ittihad in 2021 and continued to find the net with ruthless regularity. All told, the 33-year-old has managed 311 goals in 383 club games over the course of his professional career.

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An average strike rate of 0.812 goals per game is more than even Messi – considered by many to be the greatest player of all time – has managed (0.808). Exactly why Hamdallah has gone almost an entire career without ever setting foot in France, England, Germany, Italy or Spain is therefore a modern football mystery.

The trigger-happy striker is sharing attacking duties with none other than Karim Benzema at Al-Ittihad this season. While Benzema has posted respectable numbers, with seven goals in 17 matches, Hamdallah has blown him out of the water with 15 goals in 18.

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Only Talisca, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Cristiano Ronaldo have managed more than that this season. And in terms of the history of the Saudi Pro League, only two players can better Hamdallah’s 125-goal haul.

Nobody with more than 20 Saudi strikes on their CV, however, can match his goals-per-minute ratio of one every 88 minutes. Globally recognised goal machine Ronaldo has not found the net that often across only 37 matches for Al-Nassr.

In many respects, Hamdallah has put together a career unlike any other. And while there is still time for a first and final hurrah on the European stage, it remains to be seen whether that would even be of interest for a player so clearly comfortable as a Saudi specialist.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1877594/lionel-messi-abderrazak-hamdallah-al-ittihad