Mo Salah: From the unknown to the bodyguards using superstar
AFCON 2021

Mo Salah: From the unknown to the bodyguards using superstar

You will have to get use to seeing two big men with Liverpool and Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah during the Africa Cup of Nations 2021.

The Egyptian FA reportedly attached two bodyguards to their super star player after an incident in and pitch invaders in the games.

But it was not always like this for the 29-year-old who is amongst the last three nominees for the 2021 FIFA Best Men’s player of the year.

Back in March 2016 when the Pharaoh of Egypt visited Nigeria for the first leg of the AFCON qualifiers double-header games. I was on ground as one of the accredited journalists, and I remember vividly how the Kaduna crowd were shouting Mohamed Elneny’s name.

They were singing his praises like one of their own – this was shortly after the Egyptian made January move from Basel to Arsenal.

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Since Nigerians are avid Premier League followers it made more sense that Elneny was the most popular Egyptian to the Kaduna crowd at the time.

While Elneny was scoring for Arsenal against Barcelona and winning club’s player of the month award for March that year, Mo Salah was in Roma doing his thing.

Hence, the reason the crowd around me while we were trying to get a piece of the Egyptians after their training were all shouting “Elneny, Elneny, Elneny”.

I remember asking the then coach Samson Siasia saying what are our plans on stopping Mo Salah on the flanks – he responded we wouldn’t let that out but we got plans.

Egypt defeated 1-0 Nigeria at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium on the match day and as you would guess Mo Salah scored the only goal.

A move to Liverpool in the summer of the following year changed everything for the Egyptian.

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Five years after the move he has not only become the best African star, the best Arabian star he is one of the most famous world superstars.

He now rub shoulders with the best in the world and does what the best do on the pitch – he is no doubt the biggest star at the AFCON 2021.

Hence, the reason for the body guards to protect him from pitch invaders and sadly the Super Eagles will be the first team to face the Egyptian super star.

Fans will have to get used to seeing the two big men alongside the Liverpool great, certainly not on the pitch.

And it has not always been like this for Mo Salah – this is a reward of his dedication, commitment to being one of the best.

Tope Adefala

Tope Adefala is an experienced sports writer, editor, and web designer. A former editor at Talks sports with a great bias for Basketball, Tennis, Field Hockey and Football. Presently the media officer of Nigeria Hockey Federation. I have been in the business of Sports communication and marketing for more than 10 years. Not forgetting that I won West African University Games, Nigeria University Games gold medals. You can find me on Twitter @1topham.

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