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The best FIFA player in the world! Named after Aubameyang and hoping to meet Messi - MoAuba's journey to the top

4:00 AM EDT 8/30/19
Mohammed 'MoAuba' Harkous FIFA eWorld Cup winner
The young German gamer defied all odds to claim the recent FIFA eWorld Cup and it's capped off a monumental rise to the top

New FIFA world champion Mohammed 'MoAuba' Harkous fell in love with the game as most young boys do - while playing against his brother.  

"The old times were playing with my brother when I was seven or eight, I always played a lot and it was so much fun for me to play FIFA," MoAuba told Goal .

But from those early days of a simple sibling rivalry confined to the couch, MoAuba's affection for the EA videogame has taken him to the world stage, where the German was recently crowned the 2019 FIFA eWorld Cup winner .

While MoAuba was an underdog heading into the tournament, he knocked off multiple top seeds en route to the final where he then beat last year's winner Mosaad 'MSdossary' Aldossary.

After claiming a 1-1 draw in his less preferred Xbox leg, MoAuba won 2-1 in the reverse PlayStation tie to seal a massive upset. 

"In the moment I thought I was dreaming because I didn’t expect it," he said.

"It was funny because I didn’t expect to make the final so I didn’t practice on Xbox, I play maybe one game a year on Xbox so it was not easy to do - the controller is as big as my hand!

"This tournament was perfect for me. I did well and I’m really happy.

"I think I needed that win. I’ve won five championships in Germany but internationally I was always close and now I have the confidence to hopefully win more tournaments."

With FIFA 20 set to be released later next month, the eWorld Cup comes at a difficult time for pro gamers like MoAuba, who are already shifting their attention to the new entry. 

Barely playing FIFA 19 in the build-up to the tournament, the German is adamant practice only prepares you so much for such a big event.

"The FIFA eWorld Cup is special because it’s coming towards the end of a FIFA so I didn’t practice a lot before I played - maybe four games in one week, so like one hour," he said. 

"For the World Cup you have to play your game because it’s not easy, you’re under so much pressure and everyone is nervous.

"You need to be relaxed and it’s not important to practice a lot - it’s important to perform in that moment." 

Performing on the big stage is something that comes naturally to MoAuba, who cherished playing the tournament in front of thousands of fans at London's The O2. 

"I always enjoy it when there's such a big crowd or viewership," MoAuba said.

"I always play better than when I play alone at home. When 50 million viewers are online you want to show what you can do - score good goals and play good passes."

Once sporting hair that resembled Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, MoAuba was given his nickname by former team-mates and has stood by it despite a receding hair line. 

"I played as a striker and I had the same hair as Aubameyang so my team-mates always called my Aubameyang. Now I’ve lost my hair like an old man," he said.

As part of being crowned the best FIFA player in the world, MoAuba pocketed €225,000 (£205,000/$250,000) in prize money and earned a ticket to FIFA's The Best awards next month, which was created following the organisation's split from the Ballon d'Or award a couple of years ago.

Having controlled football's biggest names on the TV screen for over a decade, the young German gamer is excited by the prospect of meeting them in the flesh. 

"I think if I meet Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappe it will be special because your friends are watching and saying ‘wow, he got a photo with him!’" MoAuba said. 

"It’s crazy if I get to meet them and I will enjoy it.

"In real life I think Messi is the best ever because he’s a complete player."

Ready to turn his attention to FIFA 20, which releases globally on September 24 , MoAuba admits adapting to each new entry can be nerve-wracking.

The slightest gameplay tweak is capable of unsettling some, but the new FIFA champion is confident his skills will translate to the next edition.

"I’m nervous and excited about how the next game is but I think I’m one of the best players to adapt always because I can play fast or slow," MoAuba said.

"I know how to deal with it and I think I don’t have to worry about the game.

"But each year you need a bit of luck that the game suits you. Like this year the game was perfect for me because it was quite balanced."

Having already got his hands on FIFA 20, MoAuba believes it will require some patience but with the addition of Volta, says it strikes a good balance. 

"It’s a bit slower and less fast than the old game. You have to be more tactical," he said. 

"Volta looks like a fun game for casuals so you have a good balance."