AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy has reiterated the importance of his Arab “roots” along his path to stardom.
– #Quiz360: WIN dinner for 2 at Media Rotana, Dubai
El Shaarawy, 22, emerged as one of Italian football’s brightest talents prior to an injury-hit 2013-14 campaign. The Genoa youth product comes from a mixed race family, with an Egyptian father and Italian mother.
And the youngster touched on his background when discussing his quick rise at AC Milan during the ninth edition of the Dubai International Sports Conference.
El Shaarawy said: “I am very fond of my roots. Every time I can, I go back to Egypt to see my family there. The path I followed has been great so far. Luckily, I was able to wear the Milan jersey at 18.
“I have always supported this team. It is my fourth year in Milan, I have had great times and some more troubled ones.
“Now, I am happy to wear the jersey. In future, I hope to give a lot more to Milan and to Italian football.
“Milan made me feel at home right away. Milan is a big family, and I am honoured to wear the jersey.
“My aim is to play well, play for the team. My objective is to get third position in Serie A.”
El Shaarawy seemed set to emerge as Italy’s leading talent after excelling two seasons ago, scoring 16 goals and thrilling with
his technical skills. A persistent foot injury curtailed his progress last term, making just six appearances and missing out on the 2014 World Cup squad.
“You have to try and get up on your feet,” he said. “What helped me a lot was having my friends and family around me. The club also helped. They played a big role in getting me back to my standard. I am trying to improve and be on top of my game again.”
The attacker has been steadily re-introduced to the Milan side this year, making 11 appearances under new head coach Filippo Inzaghi.
Rumours have emerged that El Shaarawy could be sacrificed in the coming transfer window, with Liverpool and Roma linked. Inzaghi moved quickly to shoot down any talk of an exit.
He said: “Stephan is our flagship player. His future is with AC Milan. “He has been injured recently, but he is doing well. The new year will be the year of El Shaarawy.”
AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari says he will be sad to see striker Fernando Torres leave the club.
– #Quiz360: WIN dinner for 2 at Channels, Media Rotana
Torres will complete a permanent move to the Rossoneri from Chelsea on January 5 but is expected to then be immediately loaned out to his former club Atletico Madrid with Italian international winger Alessio Cerci heading in the opposite direction.
Speaking yesterday in Dubai ahead of tomorrow’s friendly match against Real Madrid at the 7he Sevens, Muntari said: “It’s a pity that he’s leaving because he’s one of our top players. Aside from being a good player, he’s a great man. A really, really good lad.
“We had a great six months with him here but that’s part of football. I wish him luck that he will become the Torres that we know he is.”
Torres' miserable Chelsea form has continued into his loan spell at the San Siro with the striker netting just once in 10 appearances, but Dutch international Nigel De Jong is confident he will soon rediscover his scoring touch, even if it is not
with the Italian giants.
De Jong said: “I’m not surprised entirely because Fernando was not really playing for us in the last couple of games but he is a great player.
“I have been training with him week in, week out and he is such a hard grafter.
“We all believe that his game is still to score goals and it’s on him to show the world that he’s still a class player. Maybe we can see in the next couple of weeks how he does at Atletico.”
Torres is set to speak at today’s Dubai International Sports Conference while Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi was remaining tight-lipped over the future of the 30-year-old.
Inzaghi said: “Torres for Cerci would be a good deal, but still nothing is confirmed. Torres is still an AC Milan player, we are not here to speak about the market.”
AC Milan are in Dubai to face Real Madrid in an exhibition match at the Sevens. Sport360 caught up with the stars who are excited about the challenge. Video features: Nigel de Jong, Alex, Sulley Muntari, Michael Essien and Adil Rami.