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The Egyptian king – ‘How Mo Salah conquered the world’

From playing in the streets of Egypt to firing Liverpool within reach of European glory

“Salah, do do do do.”

Nobody could have predicted the immense impact Mohamed Salah would have in his return to the Premier League.

Liverpool took a chance on the Chelsea “flop” after he began to turn heads at Roma.

Even his celebrations are good

PA:Press Association
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Even his celebrations are good

The Egyptian has scored a remarkable 43 goals in all competitions, chipping in with a modest 31 in the league.

Salah was also named PFA Player of the Year, the crowning glory of his amazing season… so far.

‘When you get a bottle of Grey Goose in the club’

PA:Press Association
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‘When you get a bottle of Grey Goose in the club’

However, believe it or not, there was a time when Salah wasn’t banging in goals for fun and making defenders look silly.

Everybody now knows the name Mohamed Salah, but do you know his backstory?

Salah was born in Basyoun, Egypt, on June 15 1992.

In an interview with Liverpool, Salah cites players such as Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Francesco Totti, as figures he looked up to when playing out in the streets with his friends.

“I loved those kinds of players, players who played with magic.

Children in Egypt dreaming of a career like Salah

Getty - Contributor
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Children in Egypt dreaming of a career like Salah

“I have an older friend and he’d always tell me, ‘you will be a big player one day’, he was my best friend back then and he’s still my best friend to this day.”

It was at 14 that Salah signed a deal with El Mokawloon.

El Mokawloon were based in Cairo, a significant distance from Salah’s village in Basyoun.

The journey would take him four-and-a-half hours to get to training.

Soon to be rivalling that Jamie Vardy lookalike

Getty - Contributor
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Soon to be rivalling that Jamie Vardy lookalike

“For five days a week, every day for three or four years, I would make this journey.”

Salah would have to leave school several hours early in order to make training, his parents would be slapped with a fine for doing that nowadays.


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“I was coming from nothing, a 14-year-old kid with a dream. I didn’t know it would happen, I just wanted it to happen so badly.”

Salah made his first team debut for El Mokawloon at 16, that was the start of what would evolve into an incredible career from humble beginnings.

He was just 19 when he made his debut for his country in September 2011.

A month later he scored his first international goal against Niger.

His international career stepped up another level when he represented his country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

This is all we had at the Olympics. FFS

Reuters
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This is all we had at the Olympics. FFS

Salah scored in all three group games, netting against Brazil, New Zealand and Belarus, before Egypt were knocked out by Japan in the quarter-finals.

“I think after a year or two people thought, ‘ok, now he is a man for the national team – he has to produce in all of the games’.

“There was a lot of pressure early, but it was like a dream to play with the national team.”

After becoming a standout player for El Mokawloon and following his impressive showing at the Olympics, Salah made the move to Europe in 2012.

FC Basel in Switzerland was to be his destination.

One is now tearing things up in the Premier League, the other is Mo Salah

EPA
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One is now tearing things up in the Premier League, the other is Mo Salah

Salah has admitted that he initially struggled with moving continents, he was even unsure on where he was supposed to go for food at the training ground.

“It was very difficult. That’s what I can say, it’s very difficult to move to a club on another continent.

“I couldn’t understand any language because I couldn’t speak English or Swiss German. I didn’t know where I could pick up my food or anything.

“When I got back to the hotel, I’d have no channels I could watch – no Egyptian channels on the TV!”

 

Still putting Cech down in 2018

AP:Associated Press
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Still putting Cech down in 2018

Basel failed to make it out of the qualifying round of the Champions League in his first season at the club, but Salah and co still had a successful European campaign in the Europa League.

Basel reached the semi-finals, with Salah ending the year as one of the top assist-makers in the competition.

“I was very happy, but I was determined to help us get back in the Champions League – and we did the following season.”

It was that season when Salah would face Chelsea in the group stages of the competition.

The Blues would later sign Salah after he scored the winner in what was an impressive performance against them.

A friendly hello from JT

Reuters
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A friendly hello from JT

For similar results, see Scott Parker’s transfer from Charlton to Chelsea.

“Basel is a huge step in my career so far. 100 per cent, without Basel I wouldn’t be the player I am now. 100 per cent.”

In January 2014, Chelsea faced competition from Liverpool for the signature of Salah.

“There was interest from Liverpool when I went to Chelsea, but I think if I’d come at that time maybe things wouldn’t have maybe have gone as well then as they have for me now.”

This just looks weird

Getty Images - Getty
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This just looks weird

Chelsea fought off their Premier League rivals and got the deal done for just over £10million.

In his first season, Salah registered two goals and one assist from ten appearances in the Premier League.

No beard?!

AFP - Getty
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No beard?!

“I learned a lot from Chelsea; I learned how to be more professional and to become a better person and player.”

It was whilst at Chelsea that Salah got his first taste of Anfield.

“I can remember I told myself – as I said on my very first day here – ‘I have to come here one day and play’ after I’d experienced that atmosphere.”

The Egyptian fell further down the pecking order in Mourinho’s plans and made just three appearances the following season.

He was shipped off to Fiorentina on loan in February 2015, used as a makeweight in the transfer of Juan Cuadrado (LOL.)

‘When you go on to prove Jose wrong’

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‘When you go on to prove Jose wrong’

“I had a good four months at Fiorentina and it was a good time for me and us as a team.

“I did well and we performed well in the Europa League and Serie A.”

During his spell in Florence, Salah once again proved trouble for English opposition.

He scored against Tottenham as his side progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League.

Wait, is that Bentaleb?

Jamie McPhilimey - The Sun
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Wait, is that Bentaleb?

Fiorentina reportedly activated an option to make the loan move permanent at the end of the season, however, he refused the move.

Salah instead joined Roma on a season-long loan with the option to make the move permanent for £15million.

Fiorentina had sour grapes about the whole thing and launched a complaint to FIFA with the claim that Chelsea breached their agreement when they allowed Salah to join Roma.

He finished his first season in Rome with 15 goals in all competitions and was named Player of the Year.

Rising star

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Rising star

“I had a great two years in Rome and I was very, very happy there.

“Roma is not an easy place to play, it’s not easy at home – there is a lot of pressure there and it’s different”

Salah looks back on his time in Italy with great fondness.

“I think I changed the perception of me during my time with Fiorentina and then Roma.”

GOAT

Getty Images - Getty
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GOAT

After an on-running transfer saga, Liverpool finally got their man in June 2017.

“I’d said to myself, ‘I want to come back to England’. It was always in my mind, coming back here. I wanted to play here and show everyone my football.”

Liverpool forked out £35million to bring Salah back to the Premier League, a fee which initially had everyone sceptical… how wrong we would all turn out to be.

‘When McDonald’s Monopoly is back’

Reuters
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‘When McDonald’s Monopoly is back’

Salah insists that he always had an affiliation with the club, which started with him playing as Liverpool on FIFA.

“I even used to play as Liverpool on the PlayStation on FIFA when I was 18 or 19, as Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen.”

An inspiration to Salah

AP:Associated Press
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An inspiration to Salah

Channelling his inner Sami Hyypia, Salah has been incredible this season.

Liverpool have somehow managed to find themselves a player who can surpass records set by Luis Suarez.

Alongside his jaw dropping performances, the Egyptian is loving life off the pitch too.

“It’s good, I’m very happy here, but in all honesty I don’t go out much – I just stay at home with family and they really like Liverpool, too.”

“I understand Scouse, I think, but it’s very difficult… very difficult! The accent is so hard to understand. Flanno’s accent is the worst one – I cannot understand anything from him.”

Salah’s best mate

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Salah’s best mate

The focal point of a deadly front trio, Salah has helped Liverpool to reach the Champions League semi-finals, the standout of the campaign a brilliant ‘juggle goal’ against Porto.

The Egyptian will face Roma for a place in the final, meaning Salah could come back to haunt his old club.

From humble beginnings, Salah has gone onto become one of the world’s most coveted players.

As well as raising the profile of Egypt, Salah has also been benefiting Vodaphone customers back in his home country.

A legend in Egypt

Getty - Contributor
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A legend in Egypt

Europe’s elite are ready to move for the Egyptian in the summer should he decide to leave Anfield.

Who knows where his long term future lies, but he will always be remembered in Liverpool for his recording breaking season in 2017/18.


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