Egyptian Football

Who is Mo Salah, and what is his story?

Mo Salah is taking the Premier League by storm - but how exactly did he end up where he is now?

Even though his summer move signalled the start of his second Premier League spell, many fans on English shores were blissfully unaware of what exactly Mohamed Salah would bring to one of the world’s most competitive leagues.

After grabbing 13 goals in his first 17 league matches for Liverpool, Salah has certainly shown what he can do – but how exactly did he become the major attacking threat he is today?

Before accumulating a reported £72.9m in transfer fees, Mo Salah began his career in his native homeland of Egypt, at El Mokawloon (otherwise known as Arab Contractors.)

It’s because of the fact he started his career at El Mokawloon, alongside Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny, that he is seen somewhat as a unifying figure in Egypt. This is largely due to the fact he never appeared for either of the big two – Al Ahly and El-Zamalek.

Spending four years in the youth system, Salah made his debut in May 2010, coming on away at El Mansoura. The next season he forced his way into the first team with impressive displays, including grabbing his first senior goal on Christmas Day 2010, away at Egyptian giants Al Ahly.

Image result for mohamed salah el mokawloon
Mo Salah in action for El Mokawloon.

His domestic form prompted a call up to the Senior National set-up – making his debut in September 2011, as he participated in the 2-1 defeat to Sierra Leone.

In his final season in Egypt, he appeared in every league game for the Contractors, prior to the league’s premature end due to the Port Said Stadium Disaster. Basel used this absence of domestic football to invite Salah and the rest of the Egyptian u23 squad to play a friendly.

Salah took his opportunity, showing his quality by coming off the bench to grab a brace, sending his side onto a 4-3 win. Subsequently the Swiss side extended his trial, before signing the winger to a four year deal.

Making it in Europe

At Basel, he helped his new side to the Swiss Superleague title, before winning Most Promising Talent of the Year at the CAF awards.

Still, Salah was not a name frequently mentioned elsewhere in Europe – but that all changed after the Pharaoh starman impressed in three games against Chelsea.

Chelsea eased past Basel in the Semi-finals of the Europa League on their way to the trophy, but not before Salah had left his mark by scoring at Stamford Bridge.

The season after Chelsea and Basel were drawn together again, this time in the Champions League group-stage, giving Salah the platform to impress his future employers across two games.

Basel completed a famous double over the London giants, with Salah grabbing a winner in the away game at Stamford Bridge. That, alongside an equaliser in the home tie, was enough to convince the Blues to bring the Egyptian to London, splashing out a reported £11m to secure his signature.

But his time in England was not as fruitful as he hoped – yes, he received a Premier League winners medal for his three game contribution, but he only spent a year at Chelsea before going out on loan to Fiorentina.

Making a Name in Italy

 

Immediately he returned to his dangerous best in Florence – becoming a key figure as the Viola reached the Semi-finals of the Europa League.

Controversy surrounded his switch to Serie A rivals Roma – Fiorentina believed they had the right to exercise a permanent transfer in the swap deal for Juan Cuadrado, but Salah rejected any contract from the Florence side to link up with Roma.

In the Italian capital Salah flourished, grabbing 15 goals in his debut season, as well as being named Roma’s Player of the Year for 2015/16.

Rumours circulated Salah from the start of the 16/17 campaign, but the wideman remained in Italy. Any talk of a mega-move away certainly did not distract him, as again he impressed with 17 goals and 11 assists in all competitions.

Combined with an impressive campaign at the African Cup of Nations, where his two goals and two assists saw him named in the team of the tournament, this prompted Liverpool to bring the magic-man to Merseyside, parting with the sizeable sum of £37.8m (rising with add-ons.)

The decision to invest in the 25 year-old appears to have been rewarded already – 18 goals in 23 games see him top Liverpool’s scoring charts.

After a stellar 2017, Salah was presented with the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year award, rounding off what has almost been a perfect year, had it not been for defeat in the final of the African Cup of Nations.

Mo Salah poses with his well-deserved award. Courtesy of BBC Sport. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/42322006)
Mo Salah poses with his well-deserved award. Courtesy of BBC Sport. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/42322006)

But that’s just the story so far – and with Liverpool still in four different competitions, there might be some more silverware to add to the honours list in the near future.

Written 14/12/17.

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