Few players in modern times have caused such a storm in English football as the Egyptian Mohamed Salah. He is already a living legend in Liverpool and draws admiration and praise even from his opponents. Some have called him the greatest footballer on the planet. Clayton Goodwin pays his own homage to the Egyptian King.
What do you do when you have run out of superlatives? It's easy really. Just write the name Mo Salah. He has collected them all from his on-pitch artistry, his achievements, his personality and his status as a living legend.
His club records for this season alone have been exceptional. Now, within a short time--and on his 26th birthday--this outstanding football forward is due to perform centre stage at the World Cup, football's most prestigious international championship, in Egypt's opening match against Uruguay. (He will also shortly play for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid, a club game of the greatest stature, taking place after New African has gone to press.)
Mohamed Salah Ghaly has come a long way quickly since he first saw the light of day at Nagrig in Egypt on 15 June 1992.
Salah is already a national icon in his native land, where his mere presence in a televised Liverpool game brings thousands of viewers to the coffee shops and shisha bars. The social media is awash with his pictures. It is said that no Egyptian has done what Salah has done.
His status as a symbol of hope and inspiration for a people living through difficult times and in a troubled economy resembles what boxer Muhammad Ali achieved for oppressed African-Americans in the 1960s, sprinter Usain Bolt did for the contemporary Caribbean, and cricketer Donald Bradman did for Australians of the Depression in the 1930s. Yet his influence extends beyond sport in that he brings pride to all Arabs and to Muslims generally. "I can really identify with him" is a statement often heard.
As to his qualities as a footballer --where do you start to describe them? Obviously the record number of times he has found the net, and his ability to create scoring opportunities for his colleagues, must feature highly.
He has achieved his goals and assists with his mastery of speed and mobility, tactical sense, dribbling and ball control. All are bound together by his exceptional flair.
Although he plays primarily on the right flank, Salah has the ability to be wherever there are chances to score and where he can create those chances. Even from early...