CAIRO (Reuters) - Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah sent Anfield into raptures with his dazzling display and two goals in the 5-2 demolition of AS Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg and was also the name on everybody’s lips back in his home country of Egypt.
Salah hogged the front pages of the national newspapers who hailed him as “King Salah” after his decisive performance. On the streets of the capital Cairo, there was a tangible sense of pride at the unusual sight of an Egyptian being thrust into world football’s centre stage.
“Honestly as soon as Salah scores we all feel goosebumps all over our body,” coffee shop worker Sherif Hussein told Reuters TV.
“I saw yesterday’s goals. If Messi had scored it they would have called him phenomenal but this is the first time we see an Egyptian impressing the entire world.”
A graffiti portrait of Salah adorns the walls outside a Cairo coffee shop, and even people not usually interested in football were talking excitedly about their compatriot who has turned into an ambassador for their country.
“Despite not being a football fan, I am very proud of Mohamed Salah. [Salah] was able to present a very good picture of [Egyptians] to the international world,” said Cairo resident Fatma Saad.
“About Egyptians, Arab’s and Islam. He was able to present an image of us elegantly and easily.”
In his first season back in England following an unsuccessful stint at Chelsea, Salah has already made Premier League history in matching the goals record in a 38-game season with 31 strikes. The 25-year-old was also named player of the year by his fellow professionals in England on Sunday.
He leads the race to win the Golden Boot for the top scorer in the league and is ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi in the bid to land the European Golden Shoe for the leading scorer in Europe’s top five leagues.
Salah will also spearhead the Egypt national team in Russia on their return to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years.
“Mohamed Salah is the best player in Egypt and is really representing us,” said another Cairo resident.
“He will be the best player in the world. He is royalty and everyone loves him. Everyone is proud of him. He is making Egypt proud abroad.”
Writing by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge