Larbi Benbarek

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Larbi Benbarek
Larbi Benbarek.jpg
Personal information
Full name Haj Abdelkader Larbi Ben M'barek
Date of birth (1914-06-16)16 June 1914
Place of birth Casablanca, French Morocco
Date of death 16 September 1992(1992-09-16) (aged 78)
Place of death Casablanca, Morocco
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1928–1930 FC El Ouatane de Casablanca
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1930–1934 Idéal Club Casablanca
1934–1938 US Marocaine
1938–1939 Marseille 30 (10)
1939–1945 US Marocaine
1945–1948 Stade Français FC 87 (43)
1948–1953 Atlético Madrid 113 (56)
1953–1955 Marseille 32 (13)
1955–1956 USM Bel-Abbès
National team
1938–1954 France 19 (3)
Teams managed
1957 Morocco
1960 Morocco
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Larbi Benbarek or Larbi Ben Mbarek (Arabic: العربي بن مبارك‎‎ – also known as the Black Pearl; born 16 June 1914 – died 16 September 1992) was a Moroccan football player recognized as the first successful African player in Europe. He was the first player to bear the nickname of Black Pearl. Larbi rose to fame in the French league and played for France.


Benbarek was born and raised in Morocco in the period when the country was under the French rule. The first African star and the first to bear the nickname of "Black Pearl", Ben Barek blazed a trail to the European, and particularly French and Spanish, leagues. He arrived in Marseille, France at the age of 20, and became an instant favourite with the fans for his skills and technical abilities. Pele took the name of the "Black Pearl" after he made a famous statement about Larbi: "If I am the King of Football, then Larbi Ben Barek is the God of it".

He is largely remembered as the first successful black footballer in Europe.

His career was interrupted by the onset of World War II but he was soon back to his best with Stade Français FC and then in Spain, with Atlético Madrid, where he truly blossomed and where his international fame spread. His nickname with the fans in Spain was "The Foot of God". With the help of Benbarek, Atlético won La Liga in 1950 and 1951. He returned to Marseille in 1953. In 1955, he joined USM Bel-Abbès, where he ended his playing career.

One of the finest players ever to represent France, he made 19 appearances for the French national team between 1938 and 1954. But his comeback in 1954 against Germany in Hanover was curtailed by an injury after half an hour and proved to be the end of his career.

Later life[edit]

He was the first coach of the Morocco national team following its independence from France.[1] Larbi Ben Barek died in his hometown on 16 September 1992. Six years after his death, he was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit Award, which is the award of the highest honor in FIFA.