Considered by many to be an essential component in the Algerian national squad, Mourad Meghni was born in France, like several of his compatriots. His father is Algerian and his mother Portuguese. Meghni’s first taste of football was in the streets and parks of Paris, where he showed enough talent to enter France’s prestigious Clairefontaine football academy, following in the footsteps of such national icons as Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka. Meghni quickly established himself as one of the stars of France’s U-17 team, and at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, he was part of the golden generation that emerged victorious. His string of performances earned him the nickname ‘petit Zidane’.
After graduating from the academy with flying colours, Meghni signed for Cannes, in the south of France. His timing was unfortunate, as the club were promptly relegated by French football authorities due to financial irregularities. Meghni escaped to Italian outfit, Bologna, where he was initially fielded in the reserve side. He began to make intermittent appearances for the full team over the next three years, playing 37 games for I Rossoblu and scoring five goals, before joining Sochaux on loan for the 2005/06 season. His sojourn in Eastern France was a productive one, as he became a favourite with fans of Les Lionceaux and significantly increased his profile, reigniting the interest of Bologna’s coaching staff in the process. Back in Italy, the attacking midfielder took his play to a new level and became part of the starting XI. Still only 23, he made a total of 35 appearances for Bologna in the 2006/07 season, scoring two goals and setting up several others along the way.
The following season, Meghni was tempted by an offer from Lazio, and moved to the bright lights of Rome. His first steps in the Italian capital were tentative, but he enjoyed the bonus of UEFA Champions League football, putting in a memorable performance against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. His report card after one year with Lazio read: 23 matches, one goal scored. Meghni’s second season was respectable as well. He played 22 times for Lazio and picked up a winner’s medal in both the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana. In addition, he started seven of the club’s UEFA Cup matches, netting a memorable strike against Levski Sofia.
In 2009, following a long period of hesitation, Meghni became one of the first players to take advantage of a change in FIFA’s eligibility rules by switching his international allegiance to Algeria, after previously having worn French colours up to U-23 level. He first joined up with his countrymen and national coach Rabah Saadane to take on Uruguay in a friendly, and has never looked back. Armed with exceptional ball skills and vision, Meghni does much of his best work when allowed to drift out wide. Injured just after the CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, he is aiming to make a successful comeback with Les Fennecs during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ this summer.