By Eric M.
It is the 95th minute. The game between Egypt and Congo is tied, 1-1. The ball lies on the penalty spot. Fans, with tears rolling down their cheeks, pray for a goal. The player takes a deep breath before shuffling to the right and then running at the ball. His foot makes clean contact with it. For an eternity, the ball soars towards the right side of the goal; the opposite direction that the Congolese goalkeeper dove. As the ball hits the back of the net, substitutes, coaches and fans alike rush onto the field to celebrate. The cameras focus on the man who scored twice in the game to single-handedly bring his country to the World Cup for the first time in almost 30 years: Mohamed Salah.
On June 22, 2017, Mohamed Salah was transferred from Italian soccer club, AC Roma, to English club, Liverpool FC, for an initial fee of around $55 million. It was arguably the best transfer for any club in the history of modern soccer. Since joining Liverpool, Salah has won a staggering number of individual awards for both club and country. He carried his team close to many awards, although no silverware has been awarded to his team since he joined.
All of these awards have been claimed by Salah, “The Pharaoh,” in his debut season for Liverpool: PFA Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, Premier League Golden Boot, Premier League Player of the Season, PFA Team of the Year: 2017-2018 Premier League, Liverpool F.C. Fan’s Player of the Year, Liverpool F.C. Player’s Player of the Year, PFA Fan’s Player of the year, and many more. With this pace, more are sure to come in the future.
Salah has scored for Liverpool an astonishing 44 times during the 2017-2018 season. This includes 32 goals in the Premier League season, propelling them to 4th place. This number of goals breaks the previous record of 31 goals shared by the legendary players Luis Suárez, Alan Shearer, and Cristiano Ronaldo. The only soccer player in Europe that has beaten Mo Salah in terms of goals in their league was Lionel Messi with only two more goals.
Also, Salah has racked up a notable number of assists. With ten in the Premier League, he has twice the number of assists that Ronaldo got in La Liga, which is arguably a less competitive league with only a couple of major competitors for the title. This shows how Salah has suddenly exploded with talent.
On Saturday, Liverpool played against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final. Tragically, after Salah landed awkwardly on his shoulder on a challenge from Sergio Ramos around midway through the first half, he was forced to get substituted off and left the field in tears. Before that, Liverpool was playing better than Real Madrid. They had already had many opportunities to score, but after Salah left the field, Liverpool’s attacking play crumbled and they eventually lost 3-1. Salah reportedly is in good spirits, but his recovery period means that he might be forced to miss the World Cup in Russia, which would be a severe blow to Egypt.
But even if Salah isn’t able to play in the World Cup, his debut season at Liverpool that got his name so widely known so quickly surely is a sign of things to come. Will Mohamed Salah become the world’s next best soccer player? Only time will tell.