Few English football fans had heard of Ilias Chair before his Stevenage loan deal. He’d made a few outings for QPR, but his impact in the football world had been negligible.
He’d made a bit of a stir over in Belgium as an exciting youngster and represented Morocco at Under 23 level, but in the Football League he was just another unfamiliar name, just another young foreign player hoping to be recognised.
Usually, moving to Stevenage is not the best way to get your name out there. The League Two club do not have extensive football pedigree, they don’t have a reputation for developing fine footballers. They’re an honest, hard-working bunch, but it’s hardly a stage to showcase talent.
Ilias Chair has made Broadhall Way his stage and right now, the football world is sat up watching intently.
The 21-year-old started by stunning leaders Lincoln City at Sincil Bank, bagging a late brace to earn his side a 2-2 draw there in February. All afternoon he terrorised one of the best back fours in the basement division and could easily have bagged six.
He followed that up with a 70-yard wonder strike against Swindon in midweek, another show of bravado and skill that astounded watching fans.
As if that wasn’t enough, he hit one from 35-yards this weekend against MK Dons, a mere tap in compared to his other strikes.
Whilst the goals fly in and the spectacular quickly becomes the norm, Chair must have a wry smile on his face. He’s dropped into League Two and taken a huge gamble, which appears to be paying off.
Over at Cambridge, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy has struggled to get on the scoresheet and in recent weeks Jorge Grant has looked quiet for Mansfield, and Chair is eclipsing them all.
Queens Park Rangers will be paying close attention too. He’s got four starts to his name there so far, but with every wonder goal he must edge closer to manager Steve McClaren’s wider plans.
The Belgian Moroccan with the audacious shot and outstanding confidence must be growing more and more certain of his ability by the day and in doing so, he’s got to be giving QPR fans hope for the future as well.