October 8, 2017, Monday night. Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt, 94th minute, Egypt 1, Congo 1. Egypt needs to win somehow in order to retrieve the dream of qualifying for the upcoming World Cup in Russia in 2018. Egypt is awarded a penalty and it’s none other than Mohamed Salah, Egypt’s sole goalscorer in this match thus far, who steps up to the spot. Quickly, as if it was coordinated, all of Egypt falls silent to keep their eyes fixated on their hero: Salah. The commentator cannot help but begin to pray.
Salah confidently strides up to the football and dispatches it into the corner of the net. From silence, all of Egypt is in jubilation! The commentator begins to cry as he’s witnessed his beloved country do what seemed impossible. Just as how Alexander conquered Egypt centuries ago, Salah conquered Africa in football in that very same city of Alexandria. Salah became the king of Egypt.
While Salah’s won the hearts of his home country Egypt, for the last few years, his eyes have been set on conquering football elsewhere: England. After signing for Liverpool from AS Roma in June of 2017, he’s came awfully close to taking Liverpool to the height of their footballing ability in this century. In his first season with the Reds, Salah and co. helped Liverpool to a top four finish with 75 points, consisting of 21 wins and 12 draws. But the high point that season for Liverpool came in Europe as they made it to the UEFA Champions League Finals, only to lose humiliatingly to Real Madrid 3-1.
Salah went down injured early in that match against Real Madrid, courtesy of a nasty tackle aimed at Salah’s shoulder from winning captain Sergio Ramos. But he ended that season with six Champions League goals and the Premier League Golden Boot in hand as a reward for his record-breaking 32 goals.
This season, he’s helped guide Liverpool to a Champions League Finals spot yet again, this time against English-side Tottenham Hotspurs and took Liverpool to a record-breaking 2nd place finished with 97 points, encountering just one loss against league winners Manchester City. But just like last season, Salah proved he’s not a one-season wonder by achieving the Premier League Golden Boot yet again, with 22 goals to his name this time.
Off of the field, Salah is a king for another reason: his heart. Being a devout Muslim, Salah has painted the image of a Muslim who’s kind-hearted and thoughtful, as his actions and words display. He hasn’t forgotten his Egyptian roots either. Salah’s reportedly donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to benefit the Egyptian people, from paying for a child’s Leuchemia treatment to paying wedding fees to local couples. Perhaps his most well known contribution was when Salah donated £300,000 to the Egyptian government to stabilize the country’s currency.
As Salah gives to his country and his people, his people give back their devotion. According to The Guardian, nearly every cafe in Egypt is adorned with Salah posters alongside famous musicians or novelists. Salah’s had such a huge influence on the lives of Egyptians that it’s been reported that in the previous presidential election, 1 million voters crossed out the candidates’ names and wrote ‘Mohamed Salah’ instead. When the government used his face to promote anti-drug awareness, the anti-drug hotline reported a 400% increase in calls.
Salah, being sincere to his Muslim and Arab core has also looked for social change. Recently, the Liverpool forward called for the change of the way women were treated in the Middle East, as Islam promotes the equality of men and women.
Whilst Salah’s changed Liverpool’s luck, he’s changed Egyptians’ lives. Within three years, it seems all of Egypt has become Liverpool-faithful.