Sport360 sat down with legendary ex-Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose to talk all things Mohamed Salah.
Legendary former Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose believes Mohamed Salah will go down in history as Egypt’s greatest ever footballer.
Jose was in Dubai to launch the Wadi Degla Football Academy – of which he is the technical adviser – and spoke at length about the phenomenal Salah and his record-breaking exploits with Liverpool this season.
The ‘Egyptian King’ scored his 30th goal of this Premier League campaign last Saturday against Bournemouth to become the highest-scoring African in a single season in England’s top flight, surpassing Didier Drogba’s mark of 29. Salah is expected to be named PFA Player of the Season on Sunday.
The 25-year-old has netted 40 goals in all competitions this season and also scored the winner that sent Egypt to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years.
While Egypt has produced many talents in the past, no one has managed to make an impression internationally the way Salah has.
And even though Jose had a front row seat to Mohamed Aboutrika’s genius throughout his years coaching him at Al Ahly, the Portuguese believes Salah will end his career as Egypt’s greatest ever.
“Mohamed Salah, he has an advantage because he grew in Europe not in Egypt. He didn’t just play in Egypt like Aboutrika or (Mahmoud El) Khatib. He made this in Europe. Basel is the best club in Switzerland now, Fiorentina is a great club, Roma is the same. Chelsea was champion at the time when he was there, with (Jose) Mourinho, and now Liverpool in the past was a great, great club, it was the best in Europe for many years. It’s completely different the development, compared to Aboutrika and Khatib,” Jose told Sport360 on Thursday.
“Aboutrika was a great, great, great player but he started at a big club at 25 years old, when I contracted him from Tersana he was 25. Khatib played all his life in Ahly. The visibility is completely different. And for the people, especially for the young people what’s important is the moment. And at the moment Mohamed Salah is the best.
“And in the future I think he’ll be the best in Egyptian history.”
Other Egyptians, including Ahmed Hossam “Mido” and Amr Zaki, enjoyed stints in the Premier League and other European clubs but lack of professionalism or physical problems hindered their progress.
Jose believes Salah developed better habits than his predecessors because he had a “different education” having gone abroad at the tender age of 19 to play for Basel.
Salah will headline the Pharaohs side that is Russia-bound this summer for Egypt’s first World Cup appearance since 1990. The North African outfit have landed in the same group as the hosts, along with Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.
Jose is certain Salah will rise to the occasion despite the immense pressure he will be under.
“He learned, he grew so much, and he has the characteristics of the great players – more pressure, more responsibility and you grow,” Jose said of Salah.
“We saw on TV, the key games, he’s the key man. No way. For him it’s very good if the pressure is going to be high. Without pressure, it’s not good for him.
“It’s like Messi, it’s like Cristiano, when it’s a very tough match, they solve the problem. Mohamed Salah in this moment is doing the same.”
Like Messi and Ronaldo, Salah seems destined to join one of Spain’s big clubs, with rumours already linking him to Real Madrid.
Jose feels the Egyptian shouldn’t jump ship just yet and must take his time before making a final move of his career.
“Salah is expected to do really well over the next few years. But Salah has already played in five clubs in Europe. That’s not very typical of a big player. Most big players play in one or two clubs at most,” said the 71-year-old.
“He played in Basel, Chelsea, Fiorentina, Roma and Liverpool is his fifth club. He moves around a lot. The investment his coach made in him, that shows he is a coach who has a good eye when it comes to choosing players. And Salah responded to that faith from his coach in a fantastic way.
“At the end of the season, he can play in the Champions League final, he can continue to be a huge weapon for Liverpool, he can win the Premier League Golden Boot, and can individually do something well in the World Cup in Russia, and can have the potential to win the Ballon d’Or.
“That would open many opportunities for him. Liverpool used to be a shark in the past, it’s a little shark now. If Salah wants to be the best, he will always look for the best.
“Messi and Cristiano will decline, Neymar, Salah and (Kylian) Mbappe will rise. You never know what’s going to happen but moving from one to club to another many times isn’t a good thing. It’s important to take your time and adapt to your new team. Hopping from one club to another, you don’t get a chance to do that.
“Salah has moved around a lot. His next step should be to one of the big teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich and he should end his career at one of those clubs.”