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Mohamed Salah: Man of the Year

Tue, Dec. 26, 2017
The Man of the Year, or the Egyptian Messi as many fans call him, is a player who has made a name for himself, and become widely recognized, not to mention loved, locally and abroad: Mohamed Salah. Salah recently scored his 15th goal with Liverpool and is the 10th to be the top scorer of the league against Chelsea in the 13th round of the English Premier League, but he did not celebrate his milestone achievement.

He raised his arms up to signal he would not celebrate his goal, paying tribute to the victims who died in the brutal mosque attack in Arish, North Sinai on November 24. The left-footed player, a label for most of the promising talents in the world of football, became the protagonist of this year. Not only has he been Liverpool`s main player in the English Premier League or the UEFA Champions League, he also led the Egyptian national team to the 2018 World Cup for the first time since 1990 edition.

Even football was affected by the political situation.The national team failed to qualify to two consecutive World Cups and three consecutive African Cup of Nations tournaments. The golden era of Egyptian football was about to end until a young man from a small Egyptian village returned hope to all Egyptians and gained their love and respect.

Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian player who challenged all obstacles to achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer. He has a stunning career in Europe and played a major role in the Egypt national team’s successes in recent years. Egyptians look to their national team winger as a national hero. Of the seven goals Egypt scored in total in the World Cup qualifiers, Salah scored five in six games, qualifying Egypt to the World Cup, and proving that he is a player why always pays his dues.

“I had the honour to play for the Egyptian national team. The flag of my country will always have a special place in my heart,” he said, according to ‘Liverpool echo’ website.

He has 25 years old but his bushy beard adds a couple of years to his appearance. His youth was mostly spent in Basyon town at Al-Gharbeya government. He grew up in a normal family, neither poor nor wealthy, but his name had a global impact within a short time frame. Salah has gained acclaim in European football in the past years.

“I was not a very good student. I was thinking only about football and this was the reason to be there [at school],” he said in an interview with ‘Liverpoolecho’ website. Salah`s parents had preferred hefocus on his studies, but there is a point where he persuaded his family to surrender to his will and allow him to play football. The young Salah took five buses from Basyon to Cairo every time he went to train at Al-Mokawlon Al-Arab club.

“My first successes were at the same time my family had to make sacrifices. It was a very difficult time for them. I used to leave the house early in the morning and I used to come back home very late. I was forced to take five buses to reach my club,” he said, according to ‘Liverpoolecho’ website. He had his debut when he was18 and scored his first professional goal against Al-Ahly in December 2010.

That goal made his name widely known in Cairo, as the every player scoring a goal against Al-Ahly and Zamalek clubs. “Football for me was nothing but a game. Maybe it was not even a hobby. Maybe it was a distraction - an impossible dream. I thought, for the first time, it could also become a job when I was 14. I was playing for a club called El Mowkaloon and I was left-back, wearing shirt number three,” he said.

File - Liverpool fans

The most critical decision of Salah’s career, setting him apart from other Egyptian players, was when he took an offer to play in Europe with the Swiss team Basel. “When I was at El Mowkaloon, my old club, and the coach told me ‘you will be with the first team tomorrow’. It was, for me, an unbelievable moment and I couldn’t believe it. I was 16 years old,” Salah said. Salah took the leap. In 2012, he debuted and started a two season campaign in which he scored nine goals in 41 games.

He was champion of the Swiss Super League and grabbed the attention of a stronger league, that of England’s Chelsea. “Honestly, I never thought about playing in Europe. But I always tried to improve myself, even when I was a kid. I wanted to play at the top level in Egypt. But in Europe, I didn’t expect this. When I played in the first team in Egypt, I said ‘why didn’t you play in Europe? You should play in Europe’.

Then when I played in Basel, then I said ‘let’s go to bigger club’ ,” he told ‘Liverpool echo.’ However, Salah did not play many games as he scored two goals in 13 games from 2014 to 2015. “In England, I struggled to impose myself, but I don’t disown that experience. I compared myself with a big club and a big league like the Premier League,” he said, according to ‘Liverpoolecho’ website. Moving to Italy’s Fiorentina, he did very well and he scored six goals in 16 games.

“I chose the number 74 jersey because I wanted to pay a tribute to the victims of the stadium in Port Said in 2012, where so many fans died because of tragic clashes [a riot following an Egyptian Premier League game led to 74 supporters dying]. And to be clear, no one has ever asked me to put this number on the jersey. It’s something I felt inside and chose to do it,” Salah has also said. AS Roma hired him for the next two seasons, where he has been key to the team that fought for Series A title with the powerful Juventus of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain.

He scored 29 goals in 65 appearances. “It’s very simple. I want to win with this team, with a club that is so popular in my home country and in this great city with which it’s impossible not to fall in love...This is one of the reasons I chose Roma. I like to play in the Champions League.” In June 2017, while his legend was growing with Rome and taking his Egyptian teammates to the World Cup, Liverpool broke the chip and gave him a new chance in the competitive Premier League.

“I’m very excited to be here. I’m very happy. I was in Egypt and I came two days ago. I was in Liverpool and I just signed one hour ago. Now I’m here and I’m very happy to be here. I would like to win something with the club. Everyone knows the club is very big. We have to do something for the fans and win something,” he told Liverpool’s official website. He proved himself and now he has more goals than Luis Suárez, Barcelona`s star, in the same number of game. Salah, with 15 goals in 20 games with the Reds, is already a household name around the world.
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