The young Egyptian football player Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool star, is no longer just an Egyptian or Arab prodigy but an international “phenomenon.”
This Egyptian player is scoring one success after another because of his talent and professionalism at various levels of international football since he left the Egyptian League, even though he never played for any of the two main teams in Cairo — Ahly and Zamalek.
Impact on the economy
Salah or ‘Mo’ has become an icon for the legendary British club and is beloved of the people. Strangely, football even had an impact on the economy, when Salah’s score of four historic goals against the Watford team, buoyed up the Egyptian stock market.
Mohsen Hassan, Member of the Board of Arabia Cotton Ginning, one of the companies which trade in the stock market, said that the rise in the Egyptian stock exchange was the result of an upbeat mood that Mohamed Salah generated after scoring four goals against Watford and becoming the Premier League’s top scorer.
The former minister of communications and president of Vodafone Egypt Hani Mahmoud stated that Mohammed Salah was able to promote Egypt as a ‘brand’ more effectively than the entire government could.
Salah became the top scorer in his debut season with Liverpool, after he raised his goal tally in all competitions to 36 goals, surpassing the Spanish player Fernando Torres who scored 33 goals in the 2008 season.
Comparisons to Messi, Ronaldo
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said that the 25-year-old Salah can become the successor of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best player. He asserted: “I guess he is on his way to (being the best in the world).”
“As it always is in life, if you have to have the skills you have to show that constantly and consistently, and he is very good,” Klopp added.
All this is wonderful to hear in the midst of all the negative stereotypes the world has developed about Arabs and Muslims. Salah is a ‘splendid’ example of success, determination and discipline.
Being a superstar, he has inspired youths across the world. He realizes the moral significance of his fame, so he frequently makes a nice gesture every now and then — such as when he gave his shirt to a British kid who asked for it while he was in the stadium. This was appreciated and widely reported by the British and international media.
While being a star is an advantage, it is also a responsibility that demands caution, which increases if the star happens to be an Arab Muslim living in a European country.
The most important thing that Salah should do on his way to success is to beware of being politicized or to fall for populist demands, especially religious ones, as it is a sensitive and crucial issue.
Salah’s success is the best promotion for him, for his people and for his culture.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy
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