Mon 21 May by Nick Said
The explosive goal-scoring form of Liverpool forward Mo Salah this season has catapulted him to among the world’s most sought-after players, a dramatic change in fortunes for the Egypt international.Salah, who forms part of a potent front-three along with Senegalese star Sadio Mane and Brazilian Roberto Firmino, will hope to end his magical campaign with victory in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.It would be an incredible achievement for a player who was told eh was out of his depth while at Chelsea, but left Stamford Bridge to reignite his career with Roma in Serie A, before moving to Anfield at the start of this campaign.And what an impact he has made, with 44 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions, including a record 32 in a single English Premier League campaign.Considering he had only managed 36 goals in five seasons prior to joining Liverpool, it has been a remarkable turnaround for the 25-year-old and will inevitably leave The Reds battling to hold on to his services in the coming months, no matter what happens against Real on Saturday.
So impressive has he been that the British Museum put a pair of his boots on display in their Egypt section, alongside ancient sandals, to pay homage to his incredible year.Salah has been hailed as an Egyptian icon for his impact in European football – certainly far greater than any of his countrymen have managed before.But he has proven too that he is ready to ‘give back’ – spending US$450,000 (R5.5-million) of his own money to buy land in his home village of Nagrig that he has donated to the local community to kick-start a much-needed water treatment plant that will greatly benefit locals."I can't tell you how much he means to us, honestly. What he’s done for us and for Egypt, I just can’t explain it at all. I’m just tearing up speaking about him right now," Nagrig local Matrawy Abu Habsah told reporters."He still comes back to his village and visits us all the time. He's not a stranger to us and he never will be."I saw him walking once and I yelled him over and I said, what are you doing walking without security? Do you know who you are now? You can’t do that. And he just says to me, 'I’m not going to walk around in my home village with security, this is home," Abu Habsah revealed."Mohamed doesn’t like to speak about the charitable work he has done or the money he donates. He doesn’t like the spotlight and he doesn’t make a fuss wherever he goes.”Salah made his debut for Egyptian top-flight side El Mokawloon in 2010 and two years later joined Basel in Switzerland.He was an instant hit there and in 2014 signed for Chelsea, but never quite managed to nail down a regular spot in south west London given the competition for places.After 18 months he was loaned out to Fiorentina and had more of an impact in Serie A, with Roma taking him on loan the following season before making his signing permanent ahead of the 2016/17 season.Liverpool made him their then club record signing for a fee rising to 50-million Euros and after scoring on debut in a 3-3 draw with Watford in August he has not stopped.