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Adel Taarabt 'Very Proud' Of Career Despite Time Away From Top

Adel Taarabt 'Very Proud' Of Career Despite Time Away From Top
By Eoin Harrington Updated

Adel Taarabt is one of the all-time great cult heroes of English football.

The Moroccan midfielder is famous for his time at QPR - and infamous for dropping off the radar in the years after his time in West London.

He's made his way back to the top level, and is preparing for a Champions League quarter final against Liverpool as part of the Benfica squad.

Speaking to the Athletic this week, Taarabt spoke about those years in the wilderness and the long term impact they have had on his football career.

Adel Taarabt: Benfica man thankful for years out of limelight

Adel Taarabt left his mark on both the Championship and the Premier League over the course of two brilliant seasons for QPR in the early 2010s, in which he led them to the top flight - and then helped keep them there.

He displayed a level of skill akin to the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, leading to plenty of highlight reels showing up on our Twitter feeds regularly.

But Taarabt fell off as QPR began to struggle, and found himself bouncing around clubs and in and out of playing for the best part of half a decade.

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After four years with Benfica, he finally made his debut for the club in 2019 under new manager Bruno Lage. He has become a vital cog in a Benfica side that has impressed in reaching this year's Champions League quarter-finals.

Taarabt spoke to the Athletic on Wednesday, and said that he was grateful for those 'wilderness years' for changing his perspective on football and his life.

It was a good thing that happened to me. I became more calm. I started to think what could I do better? So I changed my life.

I gave more time to my family. I became fully professional.

Now I believe more what people used to tell me. When I was younger, I didn't give them any time, I was thinking I was always right. I just loved playing football, all the extra things, I didn't believe in them.

But now I know these things help you to make the difference. Being healthy, sleeping well, all these things. But when you're 20, you don't feel this.

Lage has since departed as Benfica manager, and is currently in charge of Wolves in the Premier League. But Taarabt has continued to thrive in the new role Lage moved him into.

Though Taarabt enjoyed most of his earlier success in the role of playmaker or "number 10", Lage made the decision to move the Moroccan to central midfield. Taarabt explained the change in his style of play when speaking to the Athletic.

It's a different area, where you cannot risk so much. In England I was free, and the only thing asked of me to create. Now I work on both sides, trying to create and defend as well.

It is more about making the team play.

During those four years at Benfica before he even kicked a ball for the Lisbon side's senior team, it must have seemed hard for Taarabt to envisage even playing at the highest level again. But here he is, ready to face the might of Mo Salah and co. in a Champions League quarter-final next week.

And, in his closing remarks, he made it clear he has no regrets.

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When I was 18 I was already at Tottenham, at QPR I had great moments, I played for AC Milan which is a great club, and I played Champions League with them. I played with some Ballon d'Or winners, I played with Luka Modric, I played with Kaka.

OK, maybe it could have been better, but I am still very proud of the career that I had.

The streets will never forget the impact Adel Taarabt had on English football, and it's great to see him thriving again.

SEE ALSO: Chelsea 7-5 Liverpool- One Of The Wildest Champions League Quarter-Finals Ever

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