From getting sent out on loan after being deemed ‘not good enough’ at Chelsea to back-to-back BBC and CAF African Footballer of the Year Awards, Mohamed Salah went up against adversity and came out the victor. The last two years have been a dream for the 26-year old Egyptian star who has become an icon on the continent and an example to all who aspire towards greatness.
Not many could have have predicted Salah’s meteoric rise to the top level of the sport a few years ago. Yet, somehow, he has placed himself up there alongside the best of the best. Recognition of Salah’s immense talent has not just come in Africa, but worldwide. FIFA named him the 3rd best player of 2018 and he also won the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of 2018. In the Ballon d’Or rankings, he was 6th. In the English Premier League, he has been named PFA Player of the Month five times in the past year, and ended the season being named Premier League Player of the Season. He also won the Premier League Golden Boot, dethroning the back-to-back winner Harry Kane, and UEFA named him in their Champions League Team of the Season. He broke eight Premier League records last season, and became the first African player to score 11 goals in a single UEFA Champions League season.
It was widely expected that he would retain his CAF African Footballer of the Year Award, but that did not take away the glory that rightly came with it. He already looks like a man who has many more of those to win, as he is just entering into his prime years now. He is a man that got his big move to a big European Club and never really got to shine. He faced criticism and was dismissed as a player who was merely above average. After struggling a bit, he was sent out to Italy and many fans of Chelsea were happy to see him go. He made sure that that would not be the last they would hear of him. He returned to England not long after, following his spell at AS Roma where he was transferred to by Chelsea. And he returned with a vengeance! Record after record fell at his feet, and he quickly became a name to be feared all around the world. Not even the Premier League centurions were spared. He has been ruthless, and it is beautiful to behold.
For the national team, Mohamed Salah has been immense. He led them to the African Cup of Nations final where they lost to Cameroon and his last minute goal sent them to the World Cup, their first since 1990. Although injury limited his World Cup performances, he still scored 2 goals in his 2 games played (the joint-highest by any Egyptian at the World Cup). He is currently Egypt’s 3rd all-time top scorer with 39 goals in 62 games and their top scorer in African Cup of Nations qualifying with 14 goals.
Salah deserves all the accolades he has been getting. He is an inspiration to the entire African continent, and even the world at large. What we have been witnessing is an African on the rise. As Big Sean says “consider yourself lucky to see a legend before the prime”. That man is Mohamed Salah, our African Footballer of the Year!