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Mohamed Salah – A Hero to Millions

by Yasin Alizzi

From El Mokawloon Football Club in Egypt to a hard-working Premier League Superstar. Mohamed Salah Ghaly or “The Pharaoh,” as named by the press and fans, is an Egyptian football player who currently plays for Liverpool Football Club in the English Premier League. He was born in Nagrig in Egypt on June 15, 1992. He started his career in 2006 with El Mokawloon Football Club in Egypt before moving to FC Basel in Switzerland in 2012. After that, he played for Chelsea Fc, Fiorentina (on loan), and for Roma before signing for Liverpool in 2017.

SUCCESS FROM TRAGEDY

Salah played his youth football with El Mokawloon. He made his senior team debut in the Egyptian Premier League coming on as a substitute on 3 May 2010 in a 1–1 away draw against El Mansoura. The winger scored 11 times in 44 appearances in all competitions during his three seasons in El Mokawloon’s first-team.

Salah’s career was strangely propelled to the next level following the worst disaster in Egypt’s footballing history. The Port Said riot in February 2012 saw 74 people – many of them teenagers – die after violent clashes between fans of Al-Masry and Al-Ahly.

The rest of the Egyptian league season was unsurprisingly cancelled prematurely as a sign of respect for those that lost their lives. In the aftermath, Swiss side Basel set up a friendly match with Egypt’s Under-23s to scout some of the country’s emerging talents since they couldn’t monitor league games.

Salah was one of them – and he scored twice despite being limited to playing during only the second half. Basel quickly recognised the potential of the then 19-year-old, offering him a four-year contract which he grasped with both hands.

The disaster lives long in the memory for the 25-year-old though, choosing to wear the number 74 during his loan spell at Fiorentina as a tribute to those that perished.

FC BASEL

Salah signed a four-year deal with Basel on 15 June 2012 following his impressive performance in the friendly. He made his Basel debut as a substitute in a 4-2 loss to Norwegian side Molde in the Champions League in September 2012.

Salah scored his first goal in Switzerland’s top flight in a win against Lausanne after making his domestic debut a week earlier. His first Europa League goal came in a two-legged win against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Salah also got on the score sheet in a defeat to eventual Europa League winners Chelsea.

His second season was a success too. The Egypt international netted twice to help Basel beat Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the Champions League playoff round to secure a spot in the group stage.

Salah produced an eye-catching performance at Stamford Bridge as Basel were 2-1 winners against Chelsea in the Champions League. He continued his fine record against the West London side in the return fixture in Switzerland.

He scored 10 times in 29 appearances before he secured a move to the Premier League in January 2014. Salah finished his Basel career as a two-time title winner.

CHELSEA

His impressive performances for Basel caught the attention of Chelsea and the West London side won the race to sign Salah in a £14m deal in 2014. However, Salah struggled to impress at Stamford Bridge. He made only 13 appearances in two seasons for the blues scoring 2 goals. He was sent on loan in February 2015 to Fiorentina and in August 2015 to AS Roma before he completed a permanent move to the Italian capital in 2016.

ROMA

The Egyptian forward opted to move to AS Roma on a season-long loan. Salah made his AS Roma debut in a 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona in August 2015. His first goal for the Rome outfit came against Sassuolo a month later in a 2-2 draw. Mohamed finished the season with 14 goals and six assists to finish as Roma’s player of the season. Unsurprisingly, the Rome outfit made the deal permanent on 3 August when he signed a three-year deal after AS Roma agreed a £14m deal with Chelsea. When he scored his first hat-trick for Roma in a 3-0 win against Bologna at the Stadio Olimpico in November 2015, Salah took his tally to eight goals in 12 games in Serie A. Salah ended his second season with career-best figures of 15 goals and 11 assists.

BREAKING RECORDS AT LIVERPOOL

Liverpool agreed a £39m deal to sign Salah from AS Roma on 22 June 2017. Mohamed became the most-expensive signing in Liverpool’s history before the Reds reached a £48m agreement to sign Naby Keita from RB Leipzig two months later.

Salah scored on his Liverpool debut in a 3-3 draw with Watford at Vicarage Road in their first Premier League game of the season. Salah continued his goal-scoring run reaching 31 goals in all competitions this season so far, with 23 coming in the Premier League and 87 per cent of those via his favoured boot.

He continued to break records, Salah’s 20th goal scored with his left foot this season means no player in the Premier League has ever scored more in a single campaign.

In terms of the modern Premier League era Salah now ranks fourth all-time for goals scored in the first 25 Premier League matches for a club, tied with the Newcastle duo Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand.
Salah broke Robbie Fowler’s Liverpool FC record after the forward became the first player to score nine times in his opening 12 Premier League games for the Merseyside club.

At Liverpool this season, he’s already won three of four Player of the Month awards, with the only other one given to Dejan Lovren as a gesture of goodwill after threats to his family. He’s also been the Champions League player of the week twice, the Premier League player of the month for November and BBC African Player of the Year.

INTERNATIONAL CAREER

Salah made his debut for the Egypt national team against Sierra Leone in 2011. His first goal for his country came in a 2-1 win against Niger in October 2011.

Mohamed scored two goals and made two assists to help Egypt reach the 2017 African Cup of Nations final before losing 2-1 to Cameron.

He played a key role in helping Egypt secure a place at their first World Cup since 1990. Mohamed scored twice in a 2-1 win against Congo last October to book their place in Russia, including a last-minute penalty which is probably the most famous and most important goal he scored in his career
Salah has scored 32 goals in 56 appearances for the Egyptian national team.

MAJOR AWARDS

– SAFP Golden Player – Swiss Golden Player Award for best player in the Swiss Super League: 2013
– Roma Player of the Season: 2015–16
– Globe Soccer Awards Best Arab Player of the Year: 2016
– BBC African Footballer of the Year: 2017
– Premier League Player of the Month: November 2017
– PFA Player of the Month: November 2017, December 2017
– Arab Player of the Year: 2017
– CAF African Footballer of the Year: 2017

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