From Egypt to England: the incredible rise of Mohamed Salah...
Mohamed Salah has rightly been taking all of the plaudits this season. Affectionately known as "the Egyptian King", Salah has taken the game by storm as he's knocked in goal after goal both domestically & in Europe.
But just how exactly did Salah go from misfiring youngster at Chelsea to being the top scorer in the Premier League with a chance of lifting the Champion's League as well?
It didn't happen by chance! Salah's story is one of determination, bravery & self belief that began as a young player in Egypt. He trained as a boy with Cairo-based side El Mokawloon, before making his Egyptian Premier League debut with them at just 17.
Believe it or not, he originally trained to be a left back!
Salah went on to become an ever-present player for El Mokawloon, but had to find pastures new in 2012 when a deadly riot at a high-profile Egyptian Premier League game resulted in the league being suspended for 2 years!
Swiss side FC Basel had been monitoring Salah for some time before this, so took the opportunity to offer him a brief trial, before signing him on a permanent deal.
It didn't take Salah long to become a key player in Basel's side, despite his young age. Although he had yet to become the goalscoring threat we know him as now, he chipped in with goals at important times both domestically & in the Champion's League.
He then came to Chelsea's attention in 2013 as the Londoners played FC Basel in the Champion's League group stages. Incredibly, Salah's side beat Chelsea both home & away, with the little Egyptian scoring in both matches.
This resulted in Chelsea forking out a reported £11m to bring Salah to Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window.
It was at this point in his career that Salah's progress stalled a little. He struggled to get a regular game for the Blues thanks to the form of Eden Hazard, Oscar & Willian. His number really looked up when then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho opted to bring in Juan Cuadrado on loan, rather than give Salah a run in the team.
Salah moved to Fiorentina on loan, scoring 6 goals in 16 appearances - not a bad return for a player who was still more midfielder than forward.
Then in 2015, before ever kicking a ball for Chelsea again, Salah made the move to Italian sleeping giants Roma. Determined to not let his unsuccessful spell in England deter him, Salah vowed to make the most of his move to Italy's capital.
The move was a huge success as Salah's pace, dribbling skills & knack of scoring earned him the club's player of the season award. He then signed for the club permanently, before having an equally impressive 2nd season.
In June 2017 Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool splashed around £45m to bring Salah to Anfield. This eclipsed the £35m record fee they had paid for Andy Carroll, and given the latter's lack of success, the move was seen as a bit of a gamble.
Well hindsight is a beautiful thing they say, and with it everyone can happily agree that the fee Liverpool paid was an absolute bargain! Under Jurgen Klopp's tactics, Salah has gone from creative attacker to virtually unstoppable goal machine!
At the time of writing this article, Salah has played 49 games for Liverpool, scored 43 times & assisted 15! Combine that with a potential Champion's League victory & it's no wonder there have been discussions about him breaking the seemingly endless cycle of Messi & Ronaldo being awarded the Ballon d'Or!
The frightening thing is, the best may yet still be to come!