ACCRA: Liverpool’s Egypt forward Mohamed Salah has been named African Footballer of the Year for 2017 ahead of his club-mate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Salah, 25, helped Egypt reach the African Nations Cup final and qualify for this year’s World Cup. He also made an African record move to Liverpool for whom he scored 23 goals in all competitions last year after his Anfield arrival from Roma.
The high-speed winger launched his career as a teenager with Arab Contractors and moved to Europe with Swiss club Basel in 2012.
The Port Said stadium disaster which involved the deaths of 74 people had prompted the suspension of the domestic league so the Egyptian under-23 team undertook a foreign tour during which Salah impressed Basel after starring there in a friendly match.
He made his competitive debut in the UEFA Champions League preliminary stages and within weeks was scoring goals in helping Basel on the way to league championship success.
The following January Salah was sold for £11m to Chelsea. However he stayed in London only 12 months before, in the middle of an English Premier League title-winning campaign, to was loaned to Italy’s Serie A with Fiorentina and then with Roma.
A permanent transfer to Roma followed and then more goals and individual awards which persuaded Liverpool to buy Salah last year for a near-club record £34m and to bring even more firepower to an exciting Anfield attack.
Simultaneously Salah had been proving himself an increasingly important member of the Egyptian national team in both the World Cup and Cup of Nations.
Salah played for the Egyptian under-20s and under-23s which included appearances at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2011 and the Olympic Games football tournament in London the following year.
Inbetween he made his senior national team debut against Sierra Leone. He also scored a hat-trick against Zimbabwe in the 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament but his six goals overall were not enough to take the Pharoaohs to Brazil for the finals.
Subsequently, last year, Salah was voted into the official African confederation team of the tournament as Egypt finished runners-up in the Cup of Nations in Gabon.
He was then Egypt’s five-goal leading marksman in the campaign which returned them to the World Cup finals for the first time in 28 years.