An emotional storm has been sparked by Morocco’s historic run to the FIFA World Cup semifinals. The person who led the north Africans to their confrontation with France on Wednesday is Walid Regragui, who is the best qualified to know this. He has experienced it just as vividly and thoroughly as everyone else, to start.

Think about his reaction to the victory over Portugal in the quarterfinals. I don’t think I’ve ever cried during a football game, he said. Although it didn’t last long, the emotion was so strong that I was unable to control it.

The 47-year-old Regragui will spend another intensely emotional evening at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday. After all, he refers to France as his “second country.” He was born in Corbeil-Essones, a suburb of Paris, and started playing at Racing Paris. He spent the majority of his playing career in France, with stops in Toulouse, Ajaccio, Dijon, and Grenoble, where he met a young Olivier Giroud.

The 47-year-old reveals his thoughts on playing France, his respect for Giroud, and the contribution that his players’ moms are making to Morocco’s World Cup journey in an interview with FIFA.

We have a significant problem, says Walid Regragui. We faced the last runner-up [Croatia] and third team [Belgium], making it seem like we faced every top team in the globe. This could be the hardest challenge yet. We respect them and will continue to give our all, as we have since the competition began, to cause an upset because, if we are successful, it will undoubtedly be a surprise.

It’s very significant for my family, friends, and loved ones. Since I’m French and was raised in France, it’s also unique for me.