Mohamed Salah: The Egyptian King

By David Kohler

MO SALAH – The Egyptian King[1]

The Pharaoh. The Egyptian King. The Egyptian Messi. Just a handful of nicknames for the Liverpool football star, Mohamed “Mo” Salah, widely considered to be one of the top footballers in the world. Salah has proven himself time and time again to be a fast and deadly goalscorer, all the while managing to stay one of the most humble and likeable footballers in the sport. But how did this Egyptian become King?

“[Salah]: ’I missed quite a lot of school because it was the only way that I could get to training on time. Sometimes I’d spend just two hours at school from 7am until 9am and then have to leave. Becoming a footballer was always my dream – when we’re young, we dream a lot’”[2].

On June 15, 1992 in the farming village of Nagrig, Basyoun, Egypt, Mohamed Salah Hamed Mahrous Ghaly was born to a middle-class Egyptian family that could never have imagined the level of football stardom their son would one day achieve. Salah quickly fell in love with the sport at a very early age, constantly playing out on the street and watching his idols—Zinedine Zidane and Luís Figo—dreaming one day of being able to compete on their level[3]. At the age of 14, after playing for small amateur clubs near his village, Salah was discovered by the top-flight Egyptian football club, The Arab Contractors Sporting Club (or El Mokawloon for short), thus starting his road towards a professional football career.

The Cairo-based football club was a four-and-a-half-hour trip from Salah’s home, and one that he would have to make five times a week there and back[4] (although needless to say, it paid off in the long run). While on the youth team, Salah was played as a full-back, only to be moved forward after his coach found Salah in tears following a big win for his team, all because he hadn’t managed to get on the scoresheet[5]. Now playing as a forward, Salah was able to shine and show what he was truly capable of—quickly moving up to a full debut on the first team.

“’We knew what his attributes were, but frankly we didn’t realise he could be so decisive’, said [Fiorentina] coach Vincenzo Montella. ‘We knew he was one of the fastest players with the ball at his feet – perhaps only Lionel Messi is faster’”[6].

From El Mokawloon, Salah caught the attention of the Swiss team, FC Basel, after scoring twice in a 4-3 victory over the Swiss in a friendly with the Egyptian U23 national team[7]. One month later, he signed a four-year contract with Basel. In his first year at Basel, Salah showed up ready to impress, winning the Axpo Super League Player of the Year award given to the best football player in the Swiss Super League. During the following season’s Champions League group stage, Salah scored in both home and away victories against Chelsea, catching the eye of the English team[8].

Soon after, Chelsea signed Salah for £11 million. Chelsea Coach, José Mourinho, chose to play Salah very sparingly, but that would not deter the young Egyptian from giving up his dreams. Shortly after joining Chelsea, Salah was loaned out to ACF Fiorentina, where he saw considerably more playtime and had the ability to shine once again. At the end of a successful season, Salah had the option of staying on permanently with Fiorentina but chose not to, instead signing to another Serie A club: AS Roma[9].

[Jürgen Klopp]: “That second goal shows what confidence does. That is how a good moment feels… [Salah’s] desire to score goals is at the highest level. He is angry at me when I take him off after 65 minutes or so. That’s the mentality you need”[10].

It was in his first year at Roma where Salah first donned the number 11 (the number he now famously wears at Liverpool). He went on to have a very good run at Roma, scoring 29 goals in 65 Serie A appearances. Now making a name for himself in the Italian league, Salah started to really break into the top-flight football scene and receive more recognition across Europe—enough so that he made it onto the radar of Jürgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool F.C. Ever since he was a child, Salah’s favorite Premier League club was Liverpool, and he always knew it was a club he would be ecstatic to play for. On June 22, 2017, this became a reality. For a Liverpool club record fee of £36.9 million, Salah officially joined Liverpool from Roma on a long-term contract. Which brings us to now.

“Collecting the ball at the right edge of the box, [Salah] shifted left and right to weave through the Tottenham defence at pace before instinctively lifting a finish over the goalkeeper with the drama and joy heightened by [Tottenham] having missed a penalty just moments earlier” [11]. Later voted Liverpool’s Best Goal of the Decade.

From Egypt to Switzerland to England to Italy, back to England; Salah is currently in his third year at Liverpool and has without a doubt shown the Premier League and the entire world what he is capable of. Through better and worse performances, through shuffling from team to team, Salah never gave up and never stopped working to become one of the best players in football. In his debut season at Liverpool, he scored 44 goals, absolutely blowing away all expectations and setting new records for the club. Not only did this give Salah the most goals in a debut season for Liverpool and the most goals in any season by a Liverpool player in the Premier League, but it also made Salah the Premier League’s all-time most prolific goalscorer in a 38-game season[12].

That same year, Salah won the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards, and the Liverpool player of the season award. Now, after his initial club record signing, Salah’s estimated market value is €150 million (making that initial signing a fantastic deal), marking him as one of the five most valuable players in the world[13]. Since his debut, he has continued to win awards, break records, and prove himself as one of the best football players in the world. He has won the Champions League, UEFA Supercup, and FIFA World Cup with Liverpool, and soon could help deliver Liverpool their first English title in 30 years and their first Premier League title ever.

“Mohamed Salah looks up and notices a football hurtling unexpectedly towards him. He immediately adjusts his body weight onto his tiptoes and kills it dead with his left foot. He lifts his head, with its mop of curls, already scouting his next move. A stunned silence greets the Liverpool winger’s outrageous first touch”[14]. Salah scores at 68 minutes to put Liverpool up 4-1 against Manchester City.

Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian King.


[1] Photo Credits: “MO SALAH – The Egyptian King”, by Ahmed Zayed Used under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License on Behance

[2] Murray, “The Making of Mohamed Salah”

[3] Rogers, Paul. “11 Things You Need to Know about Mohamed Salah.” AS Roma Official Website, 6 Aug. 2015,

[4] Murray, Andrew. “The Making of Mohamed Salah: ‘At No Stage Did I Believe I Didn’t Belong at This Level. Absolutely Not.’” FourFourTwo, 1 May 2018,

[5] Rogers, “11 Things You Need to Know about Mohamed Salah”

[6] Murray, “The Making of Mohamed Salah”

[7] Rogers, “11 Things You Need to Know about Mohamed Salah”

[8] Murray, “The Making of Mohamed Salah”

[9] “Fiorentina 1-2 Roma.” BBC Sport, BBC, 25 Oct. 2015,

[10] Hunter, Andy. “Jürgen Klopp Says Mohamed Salah Is Even Better than Liverpool Expected.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Dec. 2017,

[11] Salah’s Goal against Spurs Voted Liverpool’s Best of the Decade. CGTN, 8 Jan. 2020,

[12] “The 100 Best Male Footballers in the World 2018.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 Dec. 2018,

[13] “Mohamed Salah – Player Profile 19/20.” Transfermarkt,

[14] Murray, “The Making of Mohamed Salah”