He goes by the name Bono, an interesting choice because it automatically makes him the second-most famous Bono in the world.
After his heroics in the World Cup, though, he might, if only briefly, no longer be the second-most popular.
Yassine Bounou, the goalkeeper for Morocco’s national team, did not allow a single Spain player to score in the penalty kick shootout that decided their Round of 16 game, the first major upset in the knockout stage at Qatar 2022.
Morocco advanced to play Portugal in the quarterfinals, and they shocked them too, by defeating them 1-0 to advance to the semifinals, a first for an African side.
The win over Spain was largely because of Bono, who danced along the goal line to distract the penalty takers and even could be seen talking to them in Spanish to break their concentration.
Morocco clinched the shootout when Achraf Hakimi floated a ‘Panenka’ — a chipped shot toward the middle of the goal that floats into the net while the keeper dives in either direction — past Unai Simon. There were no goals during the game, but the final score of the shootout was 3-0.
ACHRAF HAKIMI. 🐧🏽👑
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe)
He also had a fantastic performance against Portugal to deny a star-studded attack and keep yet another clean sheet at the tournament, winning the man of the match award.
Bono is his nickname, and the name he wears on his jersey both for Morocco and his club, Sevilla.
Where is Bono from?
Born in Montreal in 1991, Bono moved to Morocco at a young age and joined the Wydad Casablanca club at age 8, remaining there until he was 19 and appearing in 11 games for their senior team.
He is 6-5, 174 pounds. He showed enough promise to join Spain powerhouse Atletico Madrid at age 21, playing for their B team for two seasons but never breaking into the first team.
He was loaned to Zaragoza in 2014 and played two seasons in Spain’s second division. He moved to Girona and helped them earn promotion to La Liga and played with them until 2019, when he was loaned to Sevilla. He has been the club’s first-team goalkeeper the past three seasons. He had 15 shutouts in 2020-21, 13 last season.
He has been a part of Morocco’s national team on a regular basis since 2013, starting four games at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and eight games in World Cup qualifying.
Has Bono had other big games?
He was considered a hero for his performance in the semifinals of the Europa League in 2020, when Sevilla earned a 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the semifinals and Bono was credited with six saves in the game.
The final against Inter Milan was not as pristine, with Sevilla winning 3-2, but Bono made two saves and was among the players who lifted the trophy that day. He signed a four-year contract with Sevilla soon after.
He made five Champions League starts in 2020-21 and recorded two shutouts as Sevilla were eliminated in the round of 16 by Borussia Dortmund.
In 2021-22, he was presented the Zamora trophy as the top goalkeeper in La Liga. After the award was presented, Real Madrid star keeper Thibault Courtois said, “He should be congratulated. He is a friend, and he deserves it this year.”
Why hasn’t Bono started every World Cup game?
Bono was the Morocco keeper for the opening game against Croatia and shut out Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and the rest of the squad that also reached the Qatar 2022 semifinals and four years ago was World Cup runner-up.
Bono was scheduled to start in the second Group F game, against Belgium, and even lined up in the ceremony during pregame and was on the field for the national anthem. He did not appear well, though, and even could be seen holding his head with his left glove. When the game began, it was Munir El Kajoui protecting the Morocco net.
Head coach Walid Regragui said Bono approached and said he did not feel right and asked to be replaced. El Kajoui shut out Belgium to help put Morocco in a terrific position to advance to the knockout rounds.
Bono returned for the final group game, a 2-1 victory over Canada. He didn’t allow an opposing player to score; Canada’s goal came on an own goal.
To date, no opponent has scored against Morocco, or Bono. Not even in a penalty shootout.