Mohammed Aboutrika, The Great African Player Who Never Played in Europe

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“Egypt’s best player before Mohamed Salah.”

1NEWS – Loyalty in football is now on the decline when viewed by most players today. They often look for personal desires, namely playing for the biggest clubs in the world or looking for new challenges to keep getting better.

In today’s era, we rarely see the loyalty of football players. Loyalty to club and country is a rare thing to find.

However, if you look at previous generations, such as Paolo Maldini at AC Milan, Francesco Totti at Roma, Manchester United pair Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, and Rogerio Ceni at Sao Paolo. These legends are firmly committed to one side for their entire professional career with one club.

However, if we shift to Africa. We will find Mohammed Aboutrika’s loyalty to keep playing in Africa.

Africa in the past had a large share of loyal and commendable stars, let alone seeing them remain on the Dark Continent. They remain committed to a career there, even though they have the ability to develop elsewhere.

An example is Segun Odegbami, a one-time Africa Cup of Nations winner in 1980, staying only at Shooting Stars throughout his playing career. He led his team to three domestic titles. The top scorer in Afcon Super Eagles success at home is still talked about today and in the West African nation as one of the best of his generation.

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The best players of decades ago, like Christian Chukwu, signed for Enugu Rangers for many years as a professional and were also very successful. He won four league titles and many competitions.

Another prominent figure is Al-Ahly’s Bibo El-Khatib, who is currently the club’s president. The former striker’s abundance of titles domestically and on the Continent in his 16 years in charge is enviable to say the least, El-Khatib winning 10 top-flight titles, two Champions League crowns (then African Champions Club) and Egypt’s third Afcon title in 1986.

Individually, he was top scorer in 1977/1978 and 1980/1981, but the team’s glory came in 1983 when he was named African Footballer of the Year, a feat the aforementioned stars never felt despite their success.

El-Khatib’s horde of accomplishments puts him ahead of Odegbami (who was runner-up to the African Footballer of the Year award in 1980) and Chukwu, and he is perhaps the most decorated personality who never played outside the continent, at least until Mohamed Salah came along in the new millennium. .

Perhaps Aboutrika has benefited from the technological advances of his day, compared to the iconic decades ago that made observers often watch the attacking midfielder play at Al-Ahly, an advantage the Red Devils legend rarely has.

In his time, despite only playing in Egypt until the end of his career, he seemed a class different.

The former Tersana player didn’t win as many league titles as El-Khatib, seven to 10 legends, but he ruined the latter’s success on the continent. He won the African Champions League on five occasions and starred for the team in their unprecedented dominance of Africa from 2006 to 2010.

The North African nation claimed gold at the continent’s most glamorous fair three times in a row in 2006, 2008 and 2010, with the virtuoso playmaker named in the tournament XI after the first two wins, and in particular being the best player and match winner in the tournament. .

Remarkably, since the last success on the continent, Egypt have struggled except their passage to the final in 2017. They suffered a loss at the hands of the persistent Lions, with the Golden Generation proving difficult to replace. Prior to the edition in Gabon, the seven-time champions failed to participate in 2012, 2013 and 2015, which was disappointing after their scintillating performances.

This coincided with Aboutrika’s advancing years (he turned 31 in 2010), and while their decline on the continent should not be solely due to the aging of the advanced playmaker, his decline played a role in spite of that.

Disappointing performances of 2019 at home, or 13 years after they reigned in front of their supporters. It underscores the fact that Egypt was no longer a late 2000s power.

His versatility is not only seen in how he passes defenders, but also in his passing in the final third. Aboutrika controls the field with a variety of skills: dribbling, passing, heading his head, to free kicks he is proficient in scoring goals.

Mohamed Aboutrika from Al Ahly

As a midfielder, he scored a lot of goals, namely 38 goals in 100 games for Egypt which put him fourth in the all-time Top Scorers list and 79 goals in 163 games for Al Ahly. Previously, the lively star had scored 27 goals in 52 games for Tersena.

Playing for the Red Devils, the forward was named African Footballer of the Year 2008, the second non-European player after Mohamed Barakat to claim the honour.

He failed to win a CAF award for the same year, finishing second only to Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor, the only time he has reached the top three.

In addition, Aboutrika was included in the CAF Team of the Year four times and deservedly been named the African Player of the Year on three occasions.

Of course, his prowess is second to none, but why has he never played in Europe despite ostensibly having the qualities to develop outside of Africa?

Ironically, this can be attributed to his transfer to Ahly in 2004, with Aboutrika claiming that she feels a strong loyalty to Ahly for giving him reasons to shine and support him throughout his career.

After all, Aboutrika delighted the continent’s supporters for a decade and Africa may not see such a reliable player again.

The five-time African Champions League winner beat El-Khatib, Odegbami and Chukwu as the greatest African player to have never played in Europe and his status here is undeniable.

(atmaja wijaya/yul)

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