PAOK sign Omar El Kaddouri
PAOK FC announce the signing of Omar El Kaddouri from Empoli FC. The Moroccan midfielder penned a four-year contract with the “Double-Headed Eagle”.
Born to Moroccan parents in Brussels on 21 August 1990, the newly-signed player of PAOK made his first steps into football in Diegem Sport Academy. He stood out from a very young age and attracted interest from the powerhouses of Belgian football.
RSC Anderlecht beat competition in signing him and included him in their B team, where he played from 2006 to 2008. He wasn’t given any opportunities to feature for the seniors though and that led him to consider his future away from the Brussels outfit.
Chasing the dream in Italy
Brescia Calcio presented him with a new prospect in his career. Despite being only 18, he didn’t think twice before leaving his country and moving to Italy’s Serie B. He played a lot for the second team, lined up some excellent performances and soon got his debut with the senior side of Brescia, on 29 March 2009.
In the following season, he played a few games with the senior side. In 2010-11, it was decided to ship him on loan to FC Südtirol to get more playing time and gain more experience. He returned stronger to Brescia Calcio and completed the 2011-12 season with 7 goals in 40 matches in Serie B and Coppa Italia. His performances didn’t go unnoticed by major Italian clubs and soon transfer rumours emerged.
The chapter of Napoli
SSC Napoli trusted in him. He became a member of their full roster and had to go through intense competition for a place in the line-ups. In his first season with the club, he conjured up 14 appearances – half of them in the UEFA Europa League- scoring one goal and serving one assist in the process.
However he was not satisfied with his minutes on the pitch. He wanted to join a team where he would feel important. He found his calling at Torino FC. He had two impressive seasons there, full of action: 76 matches, 9 goals, 16 assists and a vital role in the team’s excellent performances in the UEFA Europa League. It was the first time he was able to showcase his talent fully.
SSC Napoli fans demanded his return from loan, the administration obliged, but iconic Marek Hamšík couldn’t be left on the substitutes’ bench. Maurizio Sarri fielded El Kaddouri in various positions, but the Moroccan player never really got much playing time. He sealed the season with 20 appearances, one goal and two assists, in just 230 minutes spent on the pitch.
Last summer, he remained in SSC Napoli’s roster, but didn’t make their UEFA Champions League list. He came off the bench five times and in January 2017 he signed for Empoli FC, who invested 1,2 million euros to acquire him, in their effort to avoid relegation. They weren’t successful and El Kaddouri asked to be transferred. PAOK jumped at the opportunity and signed him.
From Belgium to Morocco
In November 2011, he was called to Belgium U21s and played twice for them. He even scored against England in the U21 Euro qualifying stages. A few months later, he received a call from Morocco Olympic squad and accepted the challenge to participate with them to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
On 14 August 2013, he made his full international debut with Morocco in a friendly encounter against Burkina Faso. Since then, he has collected 27 senior caps and scored 5 goals for them.