From the streets of a suburb off the main route of Egypt emerged a world-class football player, the first of his kind in history. Nowadays, Mohamed Salah rarely needs an introduction. His name is chanted in Egyptian cafes during the 90 minutes he is on the field during matches, headlined on international media, and praised amongst non-Arab Liverpool supporters all over the world. But talks of him do not end there. His reach exceeds the boundaries of the football field and instead, touches Arab youth wherever they may reside.
His career on Egyptian ground was short-lived but effective. Mohamed Salah kicked off his football career as a winger at the Arab Contractors Club (El Mokaweloon El Arab), scoring 11 goals in 41 games (a number of goals that would quadruple later on in his career).
Like the rest of us, Salah faced obstacles during the course of his professional career as he wasn’t always “the man of the match.” He was initially rejected by a prestigious Egyptian club, Al Zamalek. But had it not been for that rejection, Salah would not have went on to play abroad in Basel, a European team that had been scouting him for a while. He later wore Chelsea’s blue jersey, made an appearance on Italian ground to play in Fiorentina and then later as Roma’s winger before finally signing with Liverpool.
Salah’s appreciation is confirmed just by walking in the streets of his home village, Bain El Sarayat. Murals of his face cover the walls, and Egyptian nationals of all ages and classes fill local cafes on match nights, awaiting his weekly goal dispatch.
Being a small town boy who went on to play in the big leagues encouraged Arab youth and allowed them to view him a role-model. “He showed young Egyptians that your starting point in life does not dictate where you end up,” said Sherif El Meniawy, an Egypt national in his early twenties, currently residing in Canada. “There are many lessons that can be learned from Salah’s path to stardom,” he added.
Recently, Salah made an appearance on screen, not as the world-class football player that he is, but as an ambassador for change. Titled “You Are Stronger Than Drugs”, was the anti-drug campaign launched in Egypt by the Fund for Drug Control and the Treatment of Addiction (FDCTA), where Salah was featured.
Egyptian national and football enthusiast, Omar Allam, said, “It’s very inspiring to see someone with as big an influence as Salah being involved in a case like this,” he said, “Especially one that is aimed at Egyptian youth as drug addiction is a very prominent issue there,” he added.
Since then, the national drug rehabilitation hotline witnessed an increase of 400 per cent in calls after the campaign went public, according to Ghada Waly, Egypt’s Social Solidarity Minister.
His influence on Arab youth did not go unnoticed as he was awarded a medal of honor last month at the Arab League’s Youth Council for Integrated Development for his role as an ideal model for Arab youth.
Be it rising after continuous rejections or giving back to society, Salah has scored the most goals in the Premier league and secured a place in many people’s hearts.
Click on the photo below for to watch the video!
Video by Farida Khalil
Video footage from: https://bit.ly/2r6O2sZ
Photo by Farida Khalil
Images from: https://bit.ly/2KjzFt4