Egyptian Messi Named African Footballer of the Year
The Egyptian Mohamed Salah, star of his selection for the World Cup and top scorer of Liverpool, received Thursday in Accra the African Ballon d’Or 2017, awarded to the best player on the continent, ahead of the Senegalese Sadio Mané, 2nd, and the Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 3rd.
The award is traditionally voted for by the head coaches or technical directors of all Africa’s national teams. This is the first year CAF allowed captains of those teams to also vote.
He became the first Egyptian winner of this award since Mahmoud al Khatib in 1983.
“Winning this award is a dream come true, 2017 was an amazing year for me and we had a great time with the selection,” said Mohamed Salah, receiving his award.
“This is a great trophy for me, a special moment in my career, I would like to dedicate it to all children in Africa and Egypt, I would like to tell them to never stop dreaming, never stop believing it” he continued.
The 25-year-old striker shone on both the African and European turf: with AS Roma, he had an alluring 2016/17 season (19 goals in 41 games in all competitions) and has been shining since this summer in the Premier League and Champions League, under the jersey of Liverpool.
An enchanting story being shared on social media in Egypt tells how Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward and one of the world’s hottest soccer players right now, was once rejected by a local team he dreamt of playing for.
That Salah succeeded anyway is being latched onto by his fellow Egyptians as a sign of hope for a country battered by years of turmoil, deadly attacks and a harsh economic crisis.
Salah provides inspiration to many of Egypt’s 95 million people that hard times can be overcome, yet his success has also been hailed by the country’s authoritative government.
Rarely a day goes by without Salah on the front pages of Egyptian newspapers. Grim news reports often give way to more uplifting stories of how the 25-year-old Salah, who hails from an out-of-the-way Nile Delta village north of Cairo, has lit up the English Premier League in his first six months at Liverpool.
The Reds have paid more than 40 million euros to attach the services of this winger of modest size (1.76 m) and should not regret it since he scored 17 goals in 22 days of championship and 5 more in 6 days of Champions League.
– The Egyptian Messi –
And with his national team, he first reached the final of the African Cup of Nations in February in Gabon, bowing only in the last moments against Cameroon (2-1), before qualifying his country for his first World Cup since 1990: star of his team, he scored a double in the last qualifier against the Congo (2-1).
As a symbol of the emotion generated by this service: its old school was renamed to its name!
The striker also came off the pitch in November by supporting a UN campaign against violence and inequality against women in his country where sexual harassment is endemic.
Salah had already been voted African footballer of the year by the BBC in December, and Arab player of the year earlier this week.
Formed in Egypt, the Basyoun native was spotted by the Swiss club Basel at 20, in 2012.
FC Basel explained then to have discovered in 2011 at a U20 World Championship in Colombia, and have been definitively conquered when the young man scored a brace in 45 minutes with an Egyptian Olympic team, in a friendly match.
He then wore from January 2014 the shirt of Chelsea, against which he had shone in the Champions League with the club Basel in September, but where he played little.
The Blues have lent him twice in Italy, at Fiorentina (2015) and in the 2015-16 season at AS Roma, who ended up buying it, convinced by the qualities of the man who is nicknamed him the “Egyptian Messi”.
In short, he has no reason to be ashamed of the comparison with those who immediately preceded him in the prize list of the individual award, the Algerian Riyad Mahrez, champion of England with Leicester in 2016, or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, always decisive for Borussia Dormtund. Earlier, Ivorian Yaya Toure ruled unchallenged, being crowned four times from 2011 to 2014.
Among his most serious challengers, his Senegalese teammate in Liverpool Sadio Mané finished 2nd, while Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar, who scored the decisive goal in the final of the African Cup of Nations in February, was not one of the three finalists. this trophy organized by the African Confederation (CAF).
Egypt was spoiled at the African Football Awards Ceremony since the Pharaohs were elected African National Team of the Year, and their Argentine coach Hector Cuper best coach.
Wydad Casablanca, winner of the African Champions League, has won the best club of the continent.
The former player George Weah, who had already received this distinction three times and who has just been elected president of Liberia, was awarded an honorary prize, even though he was not present to receive it. It was his wife who received his reward on his behalf.