AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy has reiterated the importance of his Arab “roots” along his path to stardom.
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.”