Egypt’s Mohamed Salah voted PFA Player of the Year
Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah has been voted the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) player of the year for the 2017-18 season.
Salah finished ahead of Manchester City’s trio of Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva in voting by members of the PFA. He is the second African player to win the award. Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez won in 2016.
“It’s an honour to win this award especially because it was voted for by the other players,” said Salah, 25, at the award ceremony April 22. “I would like to thank my teammates and everyone at the club for helping me to make this happen.”
Commenting on what it meant to become the first Egyptian to win the prestigious award, Salah responded: “Hopefully I’m not the last one. I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”
It has already been a hugely successful season for Salah. His Liverpool team sits comfortably in the top four and is set to face former club Roma in the Champion's League semi-final. Salah will lead the line for Egypt this summer at the World Cup, the first time Egypt will appear at the tournament since 2010.
Salah was named BBC African Football of the Year for 2017, with many tipping the man Liverpool fans call the “Egyptian King” to prove a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or, the annual award for best player of the year.
With a coolly struck finish against West Brom on April 21, Salah posted his 31st goal of the season, equalling the record for most goals in a single Premier League campaign. Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14) each previously scored 31 goals in the modern 38-game season.
With four games to go and Salah averaging nearly a goal per match, it is expected by many that he will break the record.
Salah has 41 goals in 46 games overall, including European and Cup games, placing him close to legendary Liverpool striker Ian Rush’s record of 47 goals in a single season.
“Records never lie!!! U can say what u want but the best player @22mosalah deserved this award more than anyone!!!” Rush tweeted following the PFA announcement.
Egyptians celebrated Salah’s accomplishments, with many looking ahead to the World Cup in the hope that Salah will replicate his club form on the world stage.
Egyptian daily newspapers all led with the story on their front pages and the hashtag “the legend” Mohamed Salah was trending in Arabic.
Egyptian official state bodies issued statements of congratulations. A Foreign Ministry spokesman described Salah as a “source of national pride and happiness.”
Veteran Egyptian striker Mido, who until Salah’s debut season with Liverpool had been the country’s most successful Premier League export with 22 goals in 96 appearances, said the Liverpool forward had become Egypt’s best-ever player.
“Mohamed Salah’s mentality or personality is better than mine… Salah is very calm and the way he has developed as a player and person at Liverpool is a miracle,” Mido said in an interview with Egypt’s DMC Sport channel.
“In my opinion, Salah is the best player in Egypt’s history; not [just] for his technique, but for his ability to excel at the top level.”
Egypt is to begin its World Cup competition June 15 against Uruguay and many hope the Pharaohs — with the help of Salah — will secure qualification into the knock-out stages from a tough group that includes Saudi Arabia and host Russia.
The 2018 World Cup will feature four Arab teams — Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. The World Cup begins June 14 Saudi Arabia playing Russia. Mahmud el-Shafey is an Arab Weekly correspondent in London. You can follow him on twitter @mahmudelshafey This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.