The excitement in Egypt has reached a crazy level just weeks prior the start of the FIFA World Cup! And guess what’s the cause of this mania? None but the Liverpool forward, the one who’s being termed as the greatest football player in the world – Mohamed Salah!
For a while now, the Egyptian national Mohamed Salah has been feted as an incredible figure on the worldwide soccer stage. Numerous commentators now rate him as the best football player on the planet, surprisingly better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi! It’s a view that is backed up by the statistics: He’s scored 43 goals in JUST 47 official matches in the current season! He’s being termed as “The King”.
Great things just don’t happen, they take their time and effort, and this is exactly how Salah’s journey has been. He set out on the bumpy road to stardom when he was 14. The determined youngster used to travel 10 hours every day, five days a week, making the return bus journey from his small village Nagrig to Cairo to train. And when he finally arrived he would rush to catch the bus immediately after the session so had seldom chances of networking around and making friends in the team.
Salah was determined to follow in the footsteps of some of Africa’s great players. He chose a difficult path at such young age. He mostly didn’t use to spend the money that was meant for his food at school and utilize it to pay for his every day excursions to Cairo.
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There are several contributing components to the development of a footballer from Africa, the inspiration of national legends, the motivation and suggestions from relatives, and the want to escape crushing poverty! For Salah, it was the desire to put a grin on his dad, Alah Ghali’s face, who never questioned his ability and always encouraged him to follow his footballing career. There were times his dad would take Salah to Cairo himself just to watch his training session.
He made a big jump from playing in the Egyptian league to playing in Europe by participating in The London Olympic Games in 2012. His performance in there caught the attention of Swiss side FC Basel. During his time with FC Basel, he scored some career defining goals including the one against Chelsea in a Europa League semi-final match at Stamford Bridge. Considering his exceptional performance against them, Chelsea sealed his services with a fee of around reported £15 million.
He then decided to join the rival, Roma. This move to AS Roma uncovered Salah’s actual potential that made the world gaze at him in an awe. While in Rome, he continued to score 34 goals in 83 appearances. Amid his second season with Roma, he was at his dazzling best, finishing as club’s most elevated goal scorer with 17 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, making him the club’s Player of the Season.
It was the summer of 2017 when Liverpool decided to sign the champion for club record fee of £38 million and change his future forever!
It’s not surprising that this sort of achievement has the fans woozy with excitement. But, Mohamed Salah, warmly known as The King or The Pharaoh, represents more than this. He’s dedicated and humble, without the same airs and graces as other football super stars.
In fact, at the first semi-final match against Roma, he even apologized to fans of his previous club for his two goals. Concerning the Romans themselves, they have great recollections of his time with the squad. Following the semi-last draw, they took to Twitter to express their love for The King, stating:
“We’ll be opponents for 180 minutes, but no matter what happens, we’ll stay friends for life.“
His fans have even proposed a chant for him which goes like,
“If he’s good enough for you, He’s good enough for me
If he scores another few, Then I’ll be Muslim too,”
and ends with the words:
“He’s sitting in the mosque, That’s where I want to be.”
Salah is a practicing Muslim and often performs Sujood to celebrate his victory. He has taken over with his goodwill, and of course talent and is serving as an effective tool to eliminate hatred towards Muslim community. Many Arabs and Egyptians are therefore hopeful that Salah can exert a positive influence on an image of Islam otherwise characterised by terror and violence in British (and western) societies.