Soccer Football - Champions League - Liverpool vs NK Maribor - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - November 1, 2017 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah with the match ball Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
CAIRO - 13 November 2017: In the last few years, Egyptians suffered a lot after the political conflicts left the society torn, and since then, Egyptians didn’t find anything to gather around.
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. For them, he is more than a football player; he is like a brother to them, and their emotions towards Salah go beyond their love for a footballer.
“He brought back hope to the Egyptian youth, as he found success despite all the circumstances,” Mohamed El Nady, who works in marketing, told Egypt Today.
Salah started his career as a professional footballer at Arab Contractors Club in Cairo when he was 18, and after seven years, he became the player with highest transfer value in the history of one of the greatest clubs in the world – Liverpool – when he joined them from AS Roma.
Nady explained why Mohamed Salah succeeded to shine in Europe more than any other Egyptian player. He stated, “One of the greatest things that happened to Salah is that he did not play for Egypt’s biggest clubs, Al-Ahly and Zamalek. He did not know the fame here in Egypt, so he searched for it in the right place – Europe.”
The player, nicknamed “the Egyptian Messi”, left Arab Contractors in 2012 to join Swiss club Basel. He led the team to win the Swiss League twice and won the best player award in the Swiss League in 2013.
FC Lausanne-Sport's Mickael Facchinetti (L) fights for the ball with FC Basel's Mohamed Salah during their Swiss Super League soccer game in Lausanne February 17, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
“Egyptians want Salah to be the best player in the world, so they choose him in every vote – whatever the subject and the competitors,” Nady continued.
Amr Fathy, an Egyptian doctor, believes that Salah deserves Egyptians’ love. He told Egypt Today, “Salah achieved our dream to play in the World Cup after 28 years of absence.”
Salah scored five goals and provided two assists in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, taking Egypt to the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
Fathy added, “Since Mido, we did not have an Egyptian player in Europe’s biggest teams, but Salah differs from Mido, as he shines in all the teams he represented.”
Ahmed Hossam, known as Mido, played for many big teams in Europe, like Ajax, Roma, Marseille and Tottenham Hotspurs, but he left Europe and returned to Egypt’s Zamalek when he was just 26.
Fathy believes that Salah’s performance will have a great impact on Egyptian players in the future. He said, “Salah changed the European managers’ opinions about Egyptian players. He proved that Egyptians can play and shine outside Africa. Salah is now one of the best players in the Premier League.”
Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs Huddersfield Town - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - October 28, 2017 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp embraces Mohamed Salah after he is substituted off REUTERS/Phil Noble
Mohamed El Neny, Ramadan Sobhi, Omar Gaber and Ahmed Hegazi also found their way to play in Europe after Salah left Egypt to play there.
It is uncommon to watch any other game at a café in Egypt if Salah plays at the same time; everyone wants to follow Salah’s game.
In one of Egypt’s historic neighborhoods, El Sayeda Zainab, Egypt Today met the waiters of a local café and asked them about the atmosphere when people watch Salah’s games at their café.
“People want to watch Salah’s games. Even if Barcelona plays against Madrid at the same time, they will ask for Salah’s game,” Mahmoud Ali, known among the customers as “Hoda”, told Egypt Today.
Egyptians celebrate their victory in a soccer match against Congo that qualifies Egypt for the World Cup, in Cairo, Egypt October 8, 2017. REUTERS
Hoda added, “He is one of us. When I watch Salah, I feel that I am watching one of my brothers playing.”
Mohamed Salah has turned out to be a national hero, and he has raised Egyptians’ expectations for the World Cup in Russia.
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