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'Oh sh*t, how cool is that?!' - Hakimi on Madrid breakthrough, playing with Ronaldo & Haaland's impact at Dortmund

14:34 GMT+4 24/01/2020
Achraf Hakimi Borussia Dortmund 2019-20
The highly-rated defender, who is a product of the Blancos’ academy system, has reflected on his career to date and looked ahead to the future

Achraf Hakimi admits he had to pinch himself when being offered the chance to link up with Real Madrid, with a man who savoured Champions League glory with Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain now starring alongside the likes of Erling Haaland during a loan spell at Borussia Dortmund.

At just 21 years of age, the Morocco international is still very much one for the future.

His performances in the present are, however, earning him plenty of plaudits, with a solid grounding within the famed academy system at Santiago Bernabeu serving him well.

Madrid native Hakimi was snapped up by Real in 2006 and spent 10 years working his way through the youth ranks before breaking into the Blancos’ reserve and first-team folds.

On his early experiences, the promising full-back told Goal and DAZN: "One day my father picked me up from school and gave me a letter. I was invited to a trial session.

"At first I couldn't believe it and asked him if the letter was real. After he confirmed that, I just thought: Oh sh*t, how cool is that?! I will never forget this day, the day it all started for me."

Hakimi added on his first training session with Real’s senior squad: "That day my dream came true. My coach came to me and said that I would train the first team today.

"I still remember the way from our locker room to the locker room of the professionals. I was extremely nervous and didn't know what to think about. At the same time, I really wanted to train with the best players in the world. I will never forget that.

"To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed at first. I paid attention to the smallest detail so as to not miss anything and soak up everything to learn and improve."

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo was among those Hakimi got to play alongside while taking in 17 competitive appearances, with the Portuguese held up as the perfect role model for any youngster.

"He is an incredibly good player," Hakimi said.

"Playing with one of the best players in the world is an incredible experience. I really enjoyed it and always tried to assist goals for him.

"He talked a lot to me and gave me good tips. I loved listening to him and trying to learn as much from him as possible and to learn certain things."

In 2018, Real sanctioned a two-year loan move for Hakimi to Bundesliga giants Dortmund.

His game has been taken to another level in Germany, with it suggested that Madrid will welcome him back into their ranks this summer.

For now, though, Hakimi is looking to make the most of a 2019-20 campaign which could yet deliver title glory for BVB.

On his future, he said: "I honestly don't know [at which club I'll play next season].

"I currently see myself clearly at Borussia Dortmund. I am very happy here and I still have a four or five-month contract.”

Dortmund have bolstered their ranks during the winter transfer window in a bid to get their hands on the German top-flight crown, with a deal done for Norwegian sensation Haaland.

The teenage frontman has enjoyed a dream start to his time in Germany, netting a hat-trick off the bench on debut, with Hakimi expecting big things from one of Europe’s hottest prospects.

He said of Haaland: "We were so happy for him. Thanks to his three goals, we turned the game [against Augsburg] around and of course we hope that it will continue this way with him.

"Still, we have other great players who can help us out. Paco Alcacer is a great striker too."

Dortmund, who sit fourth in the Bundesliga table at present, will be looking to close the seven-point gap which separates them from leaders RB Leipzig when they play host to FC Koln on Friday.