Legendary former Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose believes Mohamed Salah will go down in history as Egypt’s greatest ever footballer.
Jose was in Dubai to launch the Wadi Degla Football Academy – of which he is the technical adviser – and spoke at length about the phenomenal Salah and his record-breaking exploits with Liverpool this season.
The ‘Egyptian King’ scored his 30th goal of this Premier League campaign last Saturday against Bournemouth to become the highest-scoring African in a single season in England’s top flight, surpassing Didier Drogba’s mark of 29. Salah is expected to be named PFA Player of the Season on Sunday.
The 25-year-old has netted 40 goals in all competitions this season and also scored the winner that sent Egypt to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years.
While Egypt has produced many talents in the past, no one has managed to make an impression internationally the way Salah has.
And even though Jose had a front row seat to Mohamed Aboutrika’s genius throughout his years coaching him at Al Ahly, the Portuguese believes Salah will end his career as Egypt’s greatest ever.
It was just a matter of days before this guy put my goal record as number one African @premierleague top scorer to bed So proud of you lil bro @mosalah22 continue to put Our continent as high as you can!!! Much love and blessings, like I said before The best is yet to come 🙏🏾🙏🏾 C’était juste une question de jours avant que ce bonhomme envoie mon record de meilleur buteur africain de @premierleague aux oubliettes Très fier de toi petit frère @mosalah22 Continues de porter l’Afrique au plus haut!! Comme je le disais déjà à ton sujet, le meilleur est à venir 🙏🏾🙏🏾
“Mohamed Salah, he has an advantage because he grew in Europe not in Egypt. He didn’t just play in Egypt like Aboutrika or (Mahmoud El) Khatib. He made this in Europe. Basel is the best club in Switzerland now, Fiorentina is a great club, Roma is the same. Chelsea was champion at the time when he was there, with (Jose) Mourinho, and now Liverpool in the past was a great, great club, it was the best in Europe for many years. It’s completely different the development, compared to Aboutrika and Khatib,” Jose told Sport360 on Thursday.
“Aboutrika was a great, great, great player but he started at a big club at 25 years old, when I contracted him from Tersana he was 25. Khatib played all his life in Ahly. The visibility is completely different. And for the people, especially for the young people what’s important is the moment. And at the moment Mohamed Salah is the best.
“And in the future I think he’ll be the best in Egyptian history.”
Other Egyptians, including Ahmed Hossam “Mido” and Amr Zaki, enjoyed stints in the Premier League and other European clubs but lack of professionalism or physical problems hindered their progress.
Jose believes Salah developed better habits than his predecessors because he had a “different education” having gone abroad at the tender age of 19 to play for Basel.
Salah will headline the Pharaohs side that is Russia-bound this summer for Egypt’s first World Cup appearance since 1990. The North African outfit have landed in the same group as the hosts, along with Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.
Jose is certain Salah will rise to the occasion despite the immense pressure he will be under.
“He learned, he grew so much, and he has the characteristics of the great players – more pressure, more responsibility and you grow,” Jose said of Salah.
“We saw on TV, the key games, he’s the key man. No way. For him it’s very good if the pressure is going to be high. Without pressure, it’s not good for him.
“It’s like Messi, it’s like Cristiano, when it’s a very tough match, they solve the problem. Mohamed Salah in this moment is doing the same.”
Like Messi and Ronaldo, Salah seems destined to join one of Spain’s big clubs, with rumours already linking him to Real Madrid.
Jose feels the Egyptian shouldn’t jump ship just yet and must take his time before making a final move of his career.
“Salah is expected to do really well over the next few years. But Salah has already played in five clubs in Europe. That’s not very typical of a big player. Most big players play in one or two clubs at most,” said the 71-year-old.
“He played in Basel, Chelsea, Fiorentina, Roma and Liverpool is his fifth club. He moves around a lot. The investment his coach made in him, that shows he is a coach who has a good eye when it comes to choosing players. And Salah responded to that faith from his coach in a fantastic way.
“At the end of the season, he can play in the Champions League final, he can continue to be a huge weapon for Liverpool, he can win the Premier League Golden Boot, and can individually do something well in the World Cup in Russia, and can have the potential to win the Ballon d’Or.
“That would open many opportunities for him. Liverpool used to be a shark in the past, it’s a little shark now. If Salah wants to be the best, he will always look for the best.
“Messi and Cristiano will decline, Neymar, Salah and (Kylian) Mbappe will rise. You never know what’s going to happen but moving from one to club to another many times isn’t a good thing. It’s important to take your time and adapt to your new team. Hopping from one club to another, you don’t get a chance to do that.
“Salah has moved around a lot. His next step should be to one of the big teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich and he should end his career at one of those clubs.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has dropped a stronger hint that he might come out of international retirement to resume his long career with Sweden at the World Cup this summer.
The 36-year-old striker, who last month left Manchester United to join the LA Galaxy in Major League soccer, tweeted on Sunday that he felt his chances of featuring in Russia were “skyhoga”, which means sky high in English.
Sweden beat Italy in a play-off to qualify in November but Ibrahimovic was absent from the campaign as he retired from international football following Euro 2016.
Speaking on the ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ talk show on Tuesday, Ibrahimovic said: “I’m going to the World Cup, yes. I just said I’m going to the World Cup. I say more, people will hang me so I have to be careful what I say now.
“A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup.”
Ibrahimovic went to the 2002 and 2006 finals with Sweden but the Scandinavians failed to reach the tournaments in South Africa and Rio.
The former Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain player has scored three goals across his three appearances for the LA Galaxy, including a match-winning brace against Los Angeles FC on his debut.
Referring to his dramatic maiden strike for the Galaxy, Ibrahimovic added: “Before I came I knew there were some earthquakes in Los Angeles but this one was missing.
“I’m not a typical Swedish guy, but I put Sweden on the map.”
Ibrahimovic, who has won 116 caps, has talked in the past about returning to the Sweden set-up, saying only last month: “If I want, I am there.”
Sweden are in the same group as world champions Germany, Mexico and South Korea this summer.
Speaking to AFP in Dubai, the 77-year-old, who has been in ailing health recently, put his faith in Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar’s ability to recover from a fractured foot in time to lead Brazil to a possible sixth global football title.
“We don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but I think for the World Cup he’s going to be in shape because his injury is not so bad,” said Pele, the only person to have won the World Cup three times as a player.
“I wish he has the same luck I had in the World Cup.”
PSG’s Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, has not played since breaking a metatarsal bone in his right foot on February 25 in a Ligue 1 match against Marseille. He said last week he is still recovering following surgery but expects to be fit in time for the World Cup from June 14 to July 15.
In the last World Cup on home soil four years ago, Brazil were humiliated 7-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semi-finals but Pele feels the team under “psychologist” Tite, which breezed through South American qualifying, has the tools to go all the way.
“I am confident because Tite, the new coach, now (has) had a little time to set up the team.
“We have a lot of excellent players in Europe. The problem is to put the team together.
“I think we’re going to have a good team in the next World Cup.”
Pele said he expected few surprises at the tournament, identifying Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Germany, England and France as potential challengers — although he didn’t mention 2010 world champions Spain or current European laureates Portugal, led by their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, he said “football is a box of surprises”.
As for his own health problems – Pele cancelled a trip to England in January due to “exhaustion”, although his spokesman denied he had been hospitalised — Pele said there was little cause for concern.
“I cannot play in the next World Cup but I feel good,” he said with a hearty laugh.
“I had an injury, then I had to make a surgery for the head of my hip, then I had to replace (it), then I had a little problem with my meniscus, but now I am OK, I am ready, in good shape!”
Provided by AFP Sport