Egyptian fans turned up in numbers at Mohamed Salah’s house after his address was leaked on social media. However, instead of being scared, the Liverpool star embraced the supporters and signed autographs.
The Pharaohs arrived back from the World Cup where they suffered a group stage exit and with speculation that Salah could retire from international football, fans made their way to his mansion after his address was leaked on Facebook.
His street was crowded by people and cars as they stood outside his house. Salah didn’t keep them waiting for long though and came out and signed autographs.
I feel sorry for @MoSalah.— روضة (@Rawda_tfr) June 29, 2018
I didn't even know he was here. its literally shocking to see a massive amount of people gathered around his house ,and the traffic was unbearable! I know that people love him but at least give him some personal space! #MoSalah #محمد_صلاح pic.twitter.com/n2aA5W7Xp6
The Egyptian Football Association insists star player Mohamed Salah has never discussed international retirement with them.
Speculation, not helped by a series of cryptic tweets from the Liverpool forward’s agent, has been growing the 26-year-old is set to quit his national team after their disappointing World Cup comes to an end against Saudia Arabia on Monday.
Salah’s relationship with the EFA was strained leading up to the tournament with a sponsorship row taking focus away from preparations while he is reportedly disappointed at how he has been used for political gain by administrators.
Recent criticism received after he was pictured with controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, accused of numerous human rights violations, has apparently only contributed to the player’s unhappiness.
However, the EFA says retirement is not an issue which has been raised.
“We were always informed by Salah when he takes any decisions,” it said in a statement.
“We spend the whole day together and he has never discussed this issue with any of the delegation’s members.”
On the criticism Salah has received after he was given honorary Chechen citizenship by Kadyrov at a farewell to the squad – which has been based in Grozny in the region – the statement added: “We are here in a sports event and we are following FIFA procedures, we don’t discuss politics, and if there is any political discussion, it should be directed to FIFA.”
Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas has been outspoken about the treatment of his client by the EFA in the past and he first took to Twitter on Friday to post some thoughts, starting with “Let these next few days just pass… and then we’ll see…”
Many took that to be a hint about Salah’s international future and a day later Abbas followed it up with “Fuming” and “#RespectForAll”.
His last message on Saturday was: “When it was once said that a picture speaks a thousand words, apparently not. So here are the words: Regardless of background, ethnicity, orientation, preferences, everyone deserves respect, and equal rights. #RespectForAll”.
Salah’s last Tweet, posted last Wednesday, said: “Everyone in Egypt is together and there is absolutely no disagreement between us.. We respect each other and the relationship is best.”
But his influence was felt just as significantly off it as a high-profile Muslim, energising the local Arab community and helping improve inclusivity.
“I think what Salah’s done is what John Barnes did for the black community in the ’80s,” Rotheram told a BBC Radio 5 Live documentary Mo Salah: football is Life.
“He’s starting to break down barriers. Some of them (Liverpool fans) probably don’t fully appreciate the songs they sing about Mo Salah but to have that breakdown of Islamophobia caused by one person is an absolutely phenomenal achievement.
“His legacy will be much more about what’s happened off the field as well as what’s happened on the pitch.”
Press Association Sport spoke to members of Liverpool’s Arab community last month and discovered the extent to which the Salah effect has filtered out from Anfield.
Eleven-year-old Rawan Zadeh, the daughter of a British Iraqi, for example, was inspired to take up football, having never played before, because of the Egyptian.
“My daughter wasn’t a football fan but now she is a fan of Mohamed Salah and his team,” Rawan’s mum Malath Ali told Press Association Sport.
“She has changed completely and started playing football as well at school as a result.
“I’ve always encouraged her to play any kind of sport, it doesn’t matter if you are wearing a (head) scarf, so now she likes to play football.
“I feel as if he has an influence on the kids.”
Zane Abdo, Muslim adviser and chaplain to the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, has seen how Salah has changed perceptions.
“It is like what Muhammad Ali did in the boxing world, albeit very different people, in terms of getting people to accept who he is and accept the name,” he told Press Association Sport.
“Muhammad Ali and Mohamed Salah – and Mo Farah – have all done that. It challenges a lot of the stereotypes.”