Tahar El Khalej

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Tahar El Khalej is a former Moroccan centre half/defensive midfielder who was born in Marrakech, Morocco on 16th June 1968. El Khalej began his career Kawkab Marrakech, and soon made a name for himself as one of the best players in the country. He would go on to win 99 caps for Morocco, featuring in both the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. After USA 94 El Khalej joined Portuguese outfit UD Leiria. After three successful years at the club he left to join Benfica in 1997. El Khalej played under former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness, alongside the likes of Joao Pinto and erm... Mark Pembridge and Brian Deane.

El Khalej arrived at Southampton in March 2000. He made his debut on 11th March 2000 in a 7-2 defeat at Tottenham. The Moroccan had given Saints a 2-1 lead at White Hart Lane and looked good until Spurs turned the game around. He formed a solid defensive partnership with Dean Richards, helping Glenn Hoddle's men to a comfortable Premiership survival for 1999/2000. El Khalej was sometimes used in midfield the following season, performing fairly well as Saints finished 10th. He was picked less frequently during 2001/02 as form took a tumble. He did manage goals against Bolton and Charlton that campaign however. On 11th May 2002 El Khalej was sent off for a reckless challenge on Newcastle's Kieron Dyer, which threatened to ruin the English winger's World Cup chances. He made just one Saints appearance during 2002/03, a cameo showing against West Brom on 14th September 2002.

In January 2003 El Khalej joined Charlton on a short-term basis. The former Saint did not enjoy a particularly successful spell at The Valley. He made his debut in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on 22nd February 2003, but then took part in the Addicks 6-1 home defeat to Leeds (Although to be fair to El-Khalej, Charlton were already 5-1 down by the time he came on as a substitute). El Khalej made his final appearance for the club in a 2-0 loss to Birmingham on 19th April 2003.

El Khalej hung up his boots shortly after leaving Charlton. He returned to Morocco and had a spell as president of former club Kawkab Marrakech.