Exclusive interview with the Egyptian star before the World Cup
Unquestionably, Mohamed Salah is one of the men of the season.
For his football, his left foot, his speed and his goals, which have placed him in the top ten players in the world.
Also for his tears in Kiev, that moved the world.
Now, almost two weeks later, with the mental and physical pain rested, Salah (Nagrig, 1992), who has been recovering in Benicassim with a Spanish physio, talks to MARCA.
He gives his opinion on Sergio Ramos’ words, in which the Real Madrid captain pointed out that the Egyptian could’ve continued playing with an injection.
The interview, conducted in two parts, before and after the final, is the first one in which Salah explains his feelings about the action with Ramos that has caused so much debate.
But not only that.
He speaks about Egypt’s ambitions, his personal objective, Spain’s way of playing …
“Now I’m better. I hope to play the first game against Uruguay, but that will depend on how I feel when it approaches.”
The injury in Kiev, having to leave the field in a final of the Champions League… Was it the worst moment in your career?
“Yes, it was.”
We will finally see you in Russia, but did you ever fear for your participation in the World Cup?
“When I fell to the ground, I had a mixture of physical pain and a lot of worries. Also anger and sadness for not being able to continue playing the Champions League final. Moments later, I also thought about the possibility of not playing in the World Cup and that was a devastating thought.”
Much has been said about your fall with Sergio Ramos. Do you think it was normal?
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
Sergio Ramos said days ago: “I see the play well, he grabs me first by the arm and I fall to the other side, in fact, he injures the other arm.” What do you think about that?
“It’s funny… “
Ramos also noted that “if he had an injection he could’ve even played the second half.” Do you agree?
“[Laughs] My comment is that it’s always okay when the one who made you cry first, then makes you laugh. Maybe he could also tell me if I’m going to be ready for the World Cup?”
Sergio did send a message…
“He sent me a message, but I never told him it was ‘okay.'”
Let’s talk about the World Cup. How can you explain to a European what it means for Egypt to qualify for Russia?
“It’s the first time in 28 years that we qualified… It was not normal because we won the African Cup seven times, and we were champions in 2006, 2008 and 2010. It was common to win the African Cup, but we didn’t qualify for the World Cup. And it was something we all said: ‘wow, we have to do it, we have to do it.’ We had not achieved it for a long time and it was something very special. Maybe like for Spain to win the World Cup… “
What is Egypt’s goal in the World Cup?
“I think we have a great team and a great coach [Hector Cuper], we want to qualify for the next round and do well.”
And your personal goal?
“Just to help the team to qualify and score goals, but mainly try to help the team do better in matches.”
“It’s hard to say, but I think our group and togetherness. We play differently with Hector Cuper than with our previous coach [Shawky Gharib]. We are strong as a group, we all have the same goal, to help the team win the game, that is the most important thing. But I can’t say only one strong point, the main one is that we all play together.”
Is Hector Cuper as hard as they say?
“[Laughs]. He has a great experience, he is a good coach and he helps us improve our performance. He’s not hard, I think he’s a good coach, a good man. We all help each other.”
In what football aspects has Cuper improved you?
“Tactically. He’s helped me to defend better, but he also finds a way to make it easier to attack. I think I’ve improved with him.”
Will you feel pressure from your supporters, who are very passionate, to play well in Russia?
“The pressure was to qualify for the World Cup. Of course, someone can now say ‘ok, we’ve qualified, that’s it’. But for me it’s not like that, we want to make history, achieve something different. In my head, the pressure is to achieve something different from what we have done. Not just going there, three games and thank you very much. That doesn’t go through my head.”
Have you considered the possibility of a game against Spain?
“Could be, Spain or Portugal. Hopefully. They have a great team and it would be hard to play against them. But you never know what can happen.”
What do you like most about the Spanish team? Do you have a predilection for any player?
“I played with Diego Costa and Azpilicueta at Chelsea (2013-15), with Alberto Moreno [not called] at Liverpool… they have some top players. I can’t say one, but I like Costa a lot, when I played with him it was amazing. As a man, he is top top top, and as a footballer, he is very good.”
What is your first memory of a World Cup?
“I think the first one I remember is the 2002 World Cup. I couldn’t exactly tell you a match, but I did see games from my home in my town. Brazil won it. 2-1? No, 2-0, both goals by Ronaldo.”