After A Three-Month-Break, Can Mohamed Salah Repeat the Success Of Last Year?
In January of this year, things were looking great for Mohamed Salah.
Having scored in dramatic fashion in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Manchester United, Salah reminded us, yet again, that he is world class.
That he also carried Liverpool FC to victory in the recent 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, receiving the Golden Ball award for Player of the Tournament along the way, was testament to Salah’s ongoing class on the pitch.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side had enjoyed the best-ever start to a season by a club in Europe’s top-five leagues, with many asking not if Liverpool FC would win the Premier League, but when; a footballing feat to which the Egyptian King – a nickname bestowed upon him by Liverpool supporters – has very much been a major contributor.
And then, 25 points clear at the top of the table, with the club's first Premier League title since 1990 all but in the bag, the coronavirus struck.
Football has been suspended in the UK since March. That's three months without a ball struck in aer. More than enough time to kill the momentum of club on the path to victory.
However, with the league having restrated, and Liverpool's first match being played today against local rivals Everton, we look back at Mo Salah's season so far, and ask if he can continue on his meteroic trajectory.
Mohamed Salah’s Egypt goals
Salah brought the same energy to Egypt's national team throughout 2019, building on his success the year before. The versatile striker earned his reputation as a national treasure when a last-minute penalty kick qualified the team for the 2018 World Cup, its first appearance at the tournament since 1990.
Now third in Egypt’s all-time leading scorers list, last year saw Salah step out onto the pitch during a friendly warm-up game for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations – on The Pharaohs’ home ground, no less – wearing the captain's armband for the first time ever in his international career.
Not only did the two-time GQ cover star and GQ Man of The Year 2019 validate his reputation as one of the world’s finest football players – he also cemented his status as a cultural icon. “Salah the person is now Salah the footballer is now Salah the worldwide phenomenon,” Ali Khaled wrote of the football star in GQ Middle East back in 2018, and it’s no less true now.
Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool goals
The footballer has scored 132 goals for the Reds across 85 games since he was signed for £34.3 million in 2017, and with each one – which he celebrates by performing sujood – Salah has helped break down cultural barriers in European football, inspiring pride among Muslims everywhere.
“People love the fact that he is not scared of kneeling in prayer in front of everyone in a non-Muslim country at a time of rising Islamophobia,” Egyptian soccer analyst Ahmed Atta told the New York Times in 2018. “It is like a victory to them.”
Salah is also a beacon for change closer to home. When he was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential figures of 2019, Salah used the platform to advocate for women’s equality in the Middle East, and his dedication to regeneration projects in hometown Nagrig have earned him the nickname Happiness Maker.
Mohamed Salah’s 2020 season
The man is the Urban Dictionary definition of a good egg. Question is, what does the remainder of the football season, and the rest of 2020, hold for the Arab icon?
More of the same, as far as Salah’s concerned. “For me [2017/18] was of course a fantastic, historic season which I’m very proud of, but I’m looking for another one like it,” he told GQ Middle East in an interview last year. “I’m not going to live off it. On the contrary it made me more excited and determined for this season.”
With a Premier League win all but guaranteed, and everything to play for in 2020’s Champion’s League – not to mention his return to the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations with The Pharaohs this month – there’s plenty of opportunity for Salah to demonstrate the drive, determination and sheer talent that has made him a household name.
Champions League Success
If his pace and flair in the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final is anything to go by – he scored in the opening two minutes of the match, the second fastest goal ever scored in a Champions League final – the Reds seem neigh-on unstoppable in 2020.
He’s a man of few words on social media, preferring to post pictures to Twitter and Instagram with next-to-no captions, so there’s no deciphering his next move from. But from what we know about Salah, we already know where his head’s at – and where he’s going next.
Fiercely ambitious, unrelentingly hard-working and extraordinarily humble in equal parts, the man is destined for greatness in 2020. There isn’t a single shred of doubt in our minds: For Mohamed Salah, the only way is up.