Tahar El Khalej
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|Full name||Tahar El Khalej|
|Date of birth||16 June 1968|
|Place of birth||Marrakech, Morocco|
|Height||1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|Playing position||Defender / Midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Born in Marrakech, El Khalej started at Kawkab Marrakech in 1990, spending four seasons there, helping them win one league title and two national cups. In 1994, he moved to Portugal to sign with UD Leiria, at the time, recently promoted to the first tier. Making his debut on 22 October 1994, against Vitória de Guimarães, he was frequently used as midfielder alongside Mário Artur and Abel. After two seasons in Leiria, El Khalej joined Benfica in 1997. He made his debut on 9 September 1997 and went on to amass nearly 100 appearances, 72 in the league, without winning any silverware.
With the arrival of Jupp Heynckes, El Khalej lost influence and made only 4 league appearances, two as substitute in the 1999–2000 season, so he moved to Southampton in March 2000 for £350,000, as Glenn Hoddle's first signing for his new club, although the deal had already been arranged by Dave Jones. He scored on his debut in a 7–2 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on 11 March 2000. Faced with stiff competition as a central defender from Claus Lundekvam and Dean Richards, he was later employed in a midfield role.
One of his more notable moments was during a match against Newcastle on 12 May 2002, where he made a reckless lunge on Kieron Dyer , which earned him a straight red card. Dyer was injured for months afterwards and threatened Tahar with legal action if Dyer had missed the 2002 World Cup, which did not happened. In January 2003, El Khalej moved to Charlton Athletic on a six-month deal after 65 appearances for the Saints, scoring four goals.
At the end of the season, he returned to Morocco retiring from professional football. He then worked as president of Kawkab Marrakech in 2005–06 when they played in the Moroccan 2nd division, achieving promotion to the Moroccan first division before he left the club.
He is married and has two sons, Yassine and Ahmed.
- Tahar El Khalej - International Appearances
- "El Khalej: "Saio do Benfica com muita mágoa"" [El Khalej: "I left Benfica grief stricken"]. Record (in Portuguese). 9 March 2000. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- Norman Fox (13 May 2002). "Dyer's world in tatters as Saints' stroll turns ugly". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
- "Dyer pode avançar com acção judicial contra Tahar" [Dyer could take legal action against Tahar]. Record (in Portuguese). 13 May 2002. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (2003). In That Number – A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology Publishing. p. 508. ISBN 0-9534474-3-X.
- "Charlton snap up El-Khalej". BBC Sport. 28 January 2003. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Courtney, Barie (14 July 2003). "Morocco - Details of World Cup Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
- Taher Lakhlej - KAWKABI (in French)