How Mohamed Salah was converted from defender to a forward

mohamed salah

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah “was always very quick and getting into good positions” as his academy coach said he moved him from left-back into a forward position.

Attending the El Mokawloon FC academy in Cairo during his youth days, Mo Salah actually started as a defender, but El Shishiny saw some attacking prowess in him and moved the Egyptian further up the pitch,

Salah would travel for four hours every day from his village of Nagrig to Cairo and back as he pursued a career in football.

El Shishiny says he is the one who engineered Salah’s promotion to the El Mokawloon first team, where he made his debut in the Egyptian League as a 17-year-old in 2010.

“Many coaches will say that they made him famous but I know it was down to me,” El Shishiny was quoted in the book Made in Africa as reported by The Independent.

A teenage Salah sealed his place in the senior team, attracting huge interest from Al Ahly and Zamalek but a move never materialised.

“I’m the coach who recommended him for the [El Mokawloon] first team,” El Shishiny said.

“Mohamed was playing as a left-sided defender for our team but I thought he could be better further forward.

“At the time, he wasn’t the main player in his position as we had another four who could also play there so I decided to try something different and put him on the right wing.

“He was always very quick and was getting into good positions, even if he was missing some of the chances.”

El Shishiny also spoke about Salah’s hunger for goals, a trait that he still has today.

“We had a match against ENNPI when we won 4-0 and Mohamed had three chances to score but missed every time,” continued El Shishiny.

“After the match I went to the changing room and he was crying, so I asked him, ‘Why are you crying?’ He said, ‘Because I didn’t score today.’

“Everyone else in the team was happy because we had won but he was so upset. I told him, ‘Don’t worry, you will be the top scorer in our team next season.’ He ended up scoring 30 goals!”

After two years at El Mokawloon, Salah moved to FC Basel, followed by stints at Chelsea, Fiorentina, AS Roma and now Liverpool, where he is in his third campaign.

Mohamed Salah has now established himself as one of the best attackers in the world.


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