Larbi Benbarek or Larbi Ben Mbarek (Arabic: العربي بن مبارك‎ – also known as the Black Pearl; born 16 June 1914 – died 16 September 1992) was a Moroccan football player recognized as the first successful African player in Europe. He is considered as one of the greatest and strongest player of all time and was also praised by Pelé. He was the first player to bear the nickname of Black Pearl. Larbi rose to fame in the French league.

Larbi Benbarek
Larbi Benbarek.jpg
Personal information
Full name Haj Abdelkader Larbi Ben M'barek
Date of birth (1914-06-16)16 June 1914
Place of birth Casablanca, Morocco
Date of death 16 September 1992(1992-09-16) (aged 78)
Place of death Casablanca, Morocco
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1928–1930 FC El Ouatane de Casablanca
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1930–1934 Idéal Club Casablanca
1934–1938 US Marocaine
1938–1939 Marseille 30 (10)
1939–1945 Wydad Casablanca
1945–1948 Stade Français FC 87 (43)
1948–1953 Atlético Madrid 113 (56)
1953–1955 Marseille 32 (13)
1955–1956 USM Bel Abbès
National team
1936–1937 Morocco 3 (?)
1938–1954 France 17 (3)
Teams managed
1957 Morocco
1960 Morocco
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only


Benbarek was born and raised in Morocco. The first African star and the first to bear the nickname of "Black Pearl," Ben Barek blazed a trail to the European, and particularly French and Spanish, leagues for African-born players. He arrived in Marseille, France, at the age of 20 and became an instant favorite with fans for his skills and technical abilities. Pelé took the name of the "Black Pearl" after he made a famous statement about Larbi: "If I am the King of Football, then Larbi Ben Barek is the God of it".

He is largely remembered as the first successful African footballer in Europe.

His career was interrupted by the onset of World War II, but he was soon back to his best with Stade Français FC, eventually moving on to Spain with Atlético Madrid, where his international reputation spread. His nickname with the fans in Spain was "The Foot of God". With the help of Benbarek, Atlético won La Liga in 1950 and 1951. He returned to Marseille in 1953 but joined USM Bel-Abbès shortly thereafter, where he ended his playing career.

One of the finest players ever to represent France, he made 17 appearances for Les Bleus between 1938 and 1954. His comeback in 1954 against Germany in Hanover was curtailed by an injury after half an hour and proved to be the end of his career.

Later lifeEdit

Larbi Ben Barek died in his hometown on 16 September 1992. Six years after his death, he was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit Award, which is the award of the highest honor in FIFA.


Club Atlético de Madrid[1]



  1. ^ "Ben Barek - BDFutbol" (in Spanish).