PLAYER PROFILE – KHALID BOULAHROUZ
Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz put pen to paper to sign a three year contract at Chelsea almost immediately after The Blue’s 3-0 win over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
The versatile defender, “multi-functional” in José-speak, is a centre half by trade, but is also comfortable at right back and occasionally at left back. He started the final two games of the Dutch World Cup campaign, although he was sent off in the infamous Round of 16 match against Portugal, for a thigh high challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo and an alleged elbow on Luís Figo. At the time of his signing, Boulahrouz had 15 caps.
Now 24 years old and 6’ tall, Khalid Boulahrouz is not one to shy away from a tackle, as well as being strong in the air. He is known for his ability to stick tight to opposing strikers, as well as being quite pacy. When asked to describe himself as a player, Boulahrouz had this to say, “I can read the game before the ball is played and my speed is quite good. Technically I think I am okay and tactics are also important for a defender.”
As a youngster, Boulahrouz played for quite a few clubs in his homeland. They were Excelsior Maassluis, DSOV, Ajax, HFC Haarlem and AZ Alkmaar. His professional career began at RKC Waalwijk, under now Tottenham coach, Martin Jol. Boulahrouz made his Dutch Eredivisie début on the 9th March, 2002, against Heerenveen, aged 20. After two seasons at RKC Waalwijk, where he made 64 appearances, scoring 4 goals, he signed for German Bundesliga outfit, Hamburg SV in August 2004, not long after earning his first international cap. It was whilst in Germany that Boulahrouz earned the nickname “Khalid der Kannibale” (“Khalid the Cannibal”) for his ability to eat up the opposition.
He became an integral part of Marco van Basten’s Dutch team that conceded only three goals in qualification for the World Cup. Jaap Stam commented that Boulahrouz, of Moroccan descent, could succeed him as the number one Dutch centre back. Boulahrouz did have some problems with referees in Germany, due to his all action tackling style, so he will be perfectly suited to the English Premiership. In his final season at Hamburg, Boulahrouz and Daniel van Buyten were the central figures in the Bundesliga’s best defence, only conceding 30 goals. He departed Hamburg having made 54 appearances, scoring just once.
When Mourinho confirmed the signing after the Manchester City match, he had this to say, “In a short squad and in a country where you can have only 16 players for a match, it’s important to have cover for many positions. So, for example, now I can have Boulahrouz, Ricardo and John — three options for the centre; I can have Paulo and Boulahrouz — two options for the right side; I can have Boulahrouz and Wayne Bridge — two options for the left side.”
The acquisition of the ‘multifunctional’ defender could lead to the departure of William Gallas, but Boulahrouz is more than capable of stepping up into the Chelsea side.