Biography and family
Mohamed Salah was born on June 15, 1992, in Nagrig, Gharbia, Egypt, to average middle class parents. Mohamed wasn’t good at academics, which worried his parents. Mohamed tried finding the right balance between his academics and football but he could never improve his academics. Football remained his priority all through his childhood and teenage days.
When he wasn’t playing, he was watching football on television. Among his early idols were some Arabic players. His parents wanted a conventional career for him, but unaffected by his parents’ wishes, Salah kept himself completely engrossed in football.
At first, Salah played football just for fun, but he started taking it as a serious career opportunity when he joined a local youth club ‘El Mokawloon’ in Cairo. It was far away from his hometown and he had to change five buses to reach the academy, which further harmed his academics, but his passion for the game kept him focussed.
In May 2010, at the age of 18, he was finally accepted into the senior team of his club. At first, Salah mostly played as a substitute player but eventually, as his game improved, he became a regular forward in the team. Around 2012, the ‘Egyptian Premier League’ faced a shut down and the fate of many of its players became uncertain.
Salah played his youth football with El Mokawloon. He made his senior team debut in the Egyptian Premier League coming on as a substitute on 3 May 2010 in a 1–1 away draw against El Mansoura. During the 2010–11 season Salah continued earning minutes on the pitch, eventually becoming a regular in the team. He scored his first goal for them on 25 December 2010 in a 1–1 away draw against Al Ahly. He remained a regular for Al Mokawloon, appearing in every game of the 2011–12 season. Following the Port Said Stadium riot on 1 February 2012, the Egyptian Premier League was suspended, and on 10 March 2012, the Egyptian Football Association announced their decision to cancel the remainder of the season.
Swiss Super League club Basel had been monitoring Salah for some time, so following the Egyptian Premier League suspension, the club organised a friendly match with the Egypt U-23 team. The match took place on 16 March at the Stadion Rankhof in Basel, and despite only playing the second half, Salah scored twice, helping the Egyptians to a 4–3 win. Basel subsequently invited Salah to remain in the city for a week’s training. On 10 April 2012, it was announced that Salah had signed for Basel on a four-year contract starting from 15 June 2012.
2012–13: Development and breakthrough
Salah scored on his unofficial debut on 23 June 2012 against Steaua București during a friendly match, a 4–2 defeat. He made his official Basel debut in a UEFA Champions League preliminary stage match against the Norwegian club Molde on 8 August, coming on as a substitute in the 74th minute. He made his league debut on 12 August against Thun, playing the full match. He scored his first league goal a week later, the second goal in the 2–0 home win against Lausanne. Salah scored his first Europa League goal in the quarter-finals on 11 April 2013, as Basel advanced to the semi-finals by beating Tottenham Hotspur 4–1 on penalties after a 4–4 aggregate draw. In the semi-final on 2 May, Salah scored against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, although they were beaten 2–5 on aggregate. Despite late disappointment in Europe, Basel comfortably won the Swiss Super League season 2012–13 Championship title and finished runners-up in the Swiss Cup.
2013–14: Final season and league championship
To the start of the 2013–14 Swiss Super League season Salah was member of the Basel team that won the 2013 Uhrencup. Salah scored on his first league appearance against Aarau on 13 July 2013. He scored his first Champions League goal a month later against Maccabi Tel Aviv on 6 August 2013 in the third qualifying round. Before the first leg on 30 July 2013, Salah did not take part in the UEFA-mandated pre-match handshakes with Maccabi players. Basel called the incident a “coincidence” and said it was not intended as a snub. Salah was on pressure from several Egyptian voices demanding from him not to travel to Israel and then criticizing his visit. On the return leg in Tel Aviv, he took part in the handshake line, but offered fist bumps rather than an open hand to Maccabi players. He scored twice against the Bulgarian league champions PFC Ludogorets Razgrad on 21 August 2013 in the play-off round. On 18 September 2013, Salah scored the equalizer against Chelsea in the 2–1 away win during the group stage. During the return tie on 26 November at the St. Jakob-Park, Salah scored the winning goal as Basel beat Chelsea for the second time with a 1–0 home win.
2013–14: Entry into first-team squad
On 23 January 2014, Chelsea announced that a deal had been agreed with Basel to bring Salah to London for a fee reported to be in the region of £11 million. Three days later the transfer was completed, making him the first Egyptian to sign for the Stamford Bridge club.
On 8 February, Salah made his debut for Chelsea in the Premier League, coming on as a substitute in the 3–0 win over Newcastle United. On 22 March, Salah scored his first goal for Chelsea against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in the London Derby, coming on as a substitute for Oscar, in a match which ended with a 6–0 win for the Blues. On 5 April, Salah opened the scoring and later won a penalty and an assist in Chelsea’s 3–0 win over Stoke City.
2014–15: Domestic success
Before the 2014–15 season, Salah’s future with Chelsea looked to be in a balance after reports suggested he could be forced to return to Egypt to carry out military service after his registration for an education scheme was rescinded by the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education. He was spared of military service after the meeting with the then Egyptian prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, the Minister of Higher Education and the Egyptian national manager Shawky Gharib. Salah changed squad numbers from 15 to 17 for the start of the season, with his new number having been vacated by Eden Hazard changing to number 10.
Salah was rarely used during the season. On 28 October 2014, in a 2–1 win at League Two club Shrewsbury Town in the fourth round of the League Cup, he took a shot that went so far off target that it went for a throw-in. After the game, he and fellow winger André Schürrle were criticized publicly by manager José Mourinho. Although Salah only made three league appearances before his loan move to Fiorentina, Mourinho stated that he would receive a replica winner’s medal from the club for his contributions that season.
Loan to Fiorentina
On transfer deadline, 2 February 2015, Chelsea confirmed that Salah would play for the Italian club Fiorentina on an 18-month loan until the end of the 2015–16 season, as part of a transfer deal which saw Juan Cuadrado moving in the opposite direction, Salah chose the number 74 shirt in honor of the victims of the Port Said Stadium riot. Six days after signing, he made his Fiorentina debut coming off the bench in the 65th minute as a replacement for Joaquín in a 3–2 Serie A victory against Atalanta at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Salah made his first start for Fiorentina on 14 February against Sassuolo, scoring his first goal for the club in the 30th minute. He then provided an assist to Khouma Babacar just two minutes after scoring; the match ended in a 3–1 win for Fiorentina. Twelve days after that, Salah scored his first European goal for Fiorentina, as his side advanced to the Round of 16 of the Europa League, beating Tottenham 3–1 on aggregate. Salah scored the winning goal for Fiorentina against Inter Milan on 1 March, his third goal in Serie A. Four days after that, Salah scored both of Fiorentina’s goals in their 2–1 win away to Juventus in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg. At the end of the season, Fiorentina reportedly activated an option to make the loan move permanent, but Salah refused the move. Even though the loan agreement was for 18 months, Salah refused to return to Fiorentina and instead joined fellow Serie A club Roma.
Loan to Roma
On 6 August 2015, Salah joined Roma on a season-long loan for €5 million; with the option to make the deal permanent, for a reported €15 million. He wore the number 11 shirt. He made his debut on 22 August, as the new season began with a 1–1 draw at Hellas Verona. On 11 September, ACF Fiorentina filed a complaint to FIFA with the claim that Chelsea alleging breach of contract when they allowed Salah to join Roma on loan. On 20 September, Salah scored his first goal of the season against Sassuolo to help Roma salvage a point as the match ended in a 2–2 draw. He went on to score in his following two matches, a 2–1 loss against Sampdoria and a 5–1 win against Carpi. On 25 October, Salah returned to the Stadio Artemio Franchi, scoring the opener against his former Serie A side Fiorentina to help earn a fourth straight league win for Roma. In his return, Salah was also sent off after picking up a second yellow in the closing minutes of the game, only seconds after picking up his first yellow. On 4 November, he scored the opening goal of a 3–2 UEFA Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen.
On 2 February 2016, Salah scored in a 2–0 away win over Sassuolo. Ten days later, on 12 February, he scored in a 3–1 win over Carpi. On 21 February, he scored two goals in quick succession, in a 5–0 home win over Palermo. On 4 March, Salah scored twice in a 4–1 win over former club Fiorentina, overtaking them in the top three. A week later, on 11 March, he scored in a 1–1 draw with Bologna. On 2 May, he scored in a 3–2 away win over Genoa. On 14 May, he scored in a 3–1 away win over Milan on the last day of the league season, scoring the opening goal. At the end of the season, Salah was named Player of the Season, finishing as the club’s top goalscorer with 15 goals in all competitions (14 in Serie A) and six assists.
2016–17: Permanent transfer, Serie A runner-up
On 3 August 2016, Roma made the deal permanent. On 20 August 2016, Salah scored his first goal of the season in a 4–0 win over Udinese. On 11 September, he scored in a 3–2 win over Sampdoria. Ten days later, on 21 September, he scored in a 4–0 win over Crotone. On 29 September, he scored in a 4–0 win over Astra Giurgiu in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League. On 15 October, he scored in a 3–1 win over Napoli. On 6 November, Salah scored a hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Bologna, his first club career hat-trick. On 9 March, he scored Roma’s opening goal in an eventual 2–4 defeat to Lyon in the first leg of the round of sixteen in the UEFA Europa League. On 19 March, he scored in a 3–1 win over Sassuolo. On 9 April, he scored in a 3–0 win over Bologna. On 24 April, he scored twice in a 4–1 away league win over Pescara. On 20 May, he scored in a 5–3 away win over Chievo. On 28 May, in the final game of the season, Salah was substituted for legendary captain Francesco Totti, who was playing his final game with the club, in a 3–2 win over Genoa.
2017–18: Record-breaking individual success
On 22 June 2017, Salah agreed a transfer to Liverpool. He signed a long-term contract with the Reds for an initial €42m fee that could rise to €50m. The fee was a club record, eclipsing the £35m spent on Andy Carroll in 2011. He was assigned the number 11 shirt previously worn by Roberto Firmino who instead switched to number 9. He joined the club on 1 July upon the opening of the summer transfer window, becoming Liverpool’s first Egyptian player. He scored on his debut against Watford in a 3–3 draw on 12 August. On 24 August, Salah scored his second goal for Liverpool, in a 2017–18 UEFA Champions League play-off round 4–2 win (6–3 agg) against Hoffenheim, his first goal at Anfield. Three days later, Salah scored and assisted a goal in a 4–0 victory over Arsenal. For his performances in August, Salah was awarded Player of the Month by Liverpool supporters. On 17 October, Salah netted twice in a 7–0 Champions League win over Maribor, helping Liverpool to the joint-largest ever away win in the competition, and the largest away win by an English club.
On 26 November, Salah scored the opener and refused to celebrate in a 1–1 home draw with his former team Chelsea out of respect for the club as well as victims of the North Sinai Mosque attack two days earlier. Salah hit the top of the Premier League goal scoring charts by scoring twice after coming on as a substitute away at Stoke City on 29 November in a 3–0 win. The following month, Salah netted in a 4–0 win over AFC Bournemouth; a result which saw Liverpool become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive away league matches by a margin of at least three goals. In the process, he also became the joint-second fastest player to reach 20 goals for Liverpool on his 26th appearance, only behind George Allan who reached the milestone in 19 appearances in 1895.
On 17 March 2018, Salah scored four goals in a 5–0 win over Watford, which was his first hat-trick for Liverpool. In this game, he also broke a record of scoring 36 times in his debut season for Liverpool, and also became the leading goalscorer in Europe’s top five leagues – overtaking Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Tottenham striker Harry Kane. Following Salah’s record-breaking goal exploits former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard stated “we are witnessing the start of greatness”.
On 22 April 2018, Salah was awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, having earlier been named in the PFA Team of the Year for the Premier League. Two days later, he scored a brace in a 5–2 Champions League semi-final first leg win over former club, Roma. In doing so, he simultaneously became the first player from Africa and the first Liverpool player to score 10 goals in a single campaign in the tournament. His double also took him to 43 goals for the season across all competitions, surpassing Roger Hunt’s tally of 42, and making him Liverpool’s second-highest goalscorer in a single season, behind Ian Rush. He had previously also broken the club’s record for the Premier League era, surpassing Robbie Fowler’s total of 36 goals set in the 1995–96 campaign, and Fernando Torres’ record of 33 for the most goals by a Liverpool player in a debut season. After his two goals and assists in the first leg against Roma, Salah featured in the second leg as Liverpool beat Roma 6–7 on aggregate to qualify for the final for the first time in eleven years. He would then become the Premier League’s all-time goalscorer for a 38 game season, registering his 32nd league goal in a 4–0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion en route to being awarded the Premier League Golden Boot.
In the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, Salah injured his left shoulder in the 30th minute. After initially carrying on, he left the field in tears after going to ground in a challenge with Madrid defender Sergio Ramos; the match ended in a 3–1 defeat. The Egyptian FA stated that this would have no effect on his playing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and that Salah would still be named in the team’s final squad on 4 June. The day after the match, Ramos wrote a message and sent him good wishes.
2018–19: Intense title race
On 2 July 2018, Salah signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool. Manager Jürgen Klopp said the news was important as a statement of intent in terms of Liverpool’s status in the football world in having Salah commit himself further to the club. On 12 August, Salah scored his first goal of the season and Liverpool’s first overall goal of the season, in a 4–0 win over West Ham United. On 20 August, in a 2–0 away win over Crystal Palace, Salah played a part in both of Liverpool’s goals; winning a penalty for the first after being kicked in the shins twice, and providing an assist for Sadio Mané for the second. On 25 August, Salah scored the only goal in Liverpool’s 1–0 win over Brighton.
On 30 August 2018, Salah was named on the three-man shortlist for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, coming in third place, and was also included on the three-man shortlist for the UEFA Forward of the Season, coming in second place. On 3 September he was named on the three-man shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player, finishing third. Amid controversy and online protest, Salah received the 2018 FIFA Puskás Award for goal of the year, the winning strike his goal at Anfield in his first Merseyside derby. On 24 October, Salah scored twice against Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Champions League group stage, with his second goal his 50th for the club. With 50 goals in 65 games he is the fastest player in Liverpool history to reach the half century.
On 8 December, Salah scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 away win over Bournemouth, to move Liverpool to the top of the league table. On 11 December, he scored the winning goal in a 1–0 win over Napoli in their final Champions League group fixture, the result qualifying Liverpool to the round of sixteen. On 19 January 2019, he scored his 50th Premier League goal with a brace in a 4–3 win over Crystal Palace, reaching the tally in 72 appearances. In doing so, he became the joint-fourth fastest player to achieve the milestone, alongside Fernando Torres, and behind only Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
In February 2019, West Ham said they were investigating a video which allegedly showed fans racially abusing Salah, including for being Muslim. On 5 April, he scored his 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool in a 3–1 win over Southampton and in the process broke Torres’ record to become the fastest player to reach the milestone for the club, doing so in his 69th appearance. It also saw him become the third fastest to player to reach the milestone for a single club in the Premier League era, behind Shearer for Blackburn Rovers, in 66 appearances, and van Nistelrooy for Manchester United, in 68 appearances. Later that month, he scored the second goal in a 2–0 win over Chelsea which helped Liverpool earn a club-record-equaling 26th win for the Premier League campaign; and the club’s second-highest ever wins return in the top-flight after the record of 30 set in 1979. On 26 April, he made his 100th appearance for Liverpool and broke the record jointly held by Roger Hunt and Sam Raybould for the player with the most goals in his first century of appearances for the club, netting twice in a 5–0 win over Huddersfield to take his tally to 69.
Salah made 11 appearances for the Egypt U-20 team and 11 for the Egypt U-23 team, representing Egypt in both 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2012 Summer Olympics, scoring a penalty against Argentina in the round of sixteen of the former tournament, with Egypt losing the match 1–2.
Salah was selected for the youth squad to play at the 2012 Summer Olympics scoring in all three of the team’s group games. In their opening match on 26 July, he scored Egypt’s second goal in a 2–3 defeat to Brazil he scored the equalizer in their 1–1 draw against New Zealand played on 29 July, before scoring Egypt’s opening goal in a 3–1win over Belarus in their final group stage game played on 1 August, securing advancement into the knockout stage of the tournament, where Egypt were eliminated following a 0–3 quarter-final defeat to Japan on 4 August.
On 3 September 2011, Salah made his debut for the Egypt national football team in the 2–1 away defeat by Sierra Leone. He scored his first goal for Egypt’s first team in the 3–0win against Niger a month later, on 8 October, in qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
On 10 June 2012, he scored a goal in the 93rd minute in stoppage time against Guinea to give Egypt an important 3–2 away victory in a 2014 World Cup qualifier. On 9 June 2013, Salah scored a hat-trick in a 4–2 away win against Zimbabwe as Egypt won their fourth consecutive match in the World Cup qualifiers. A week later in the following match, he scored the only goal away to Mozambique, putting Egypt into the final qualifying group. On 10 September, Salah scored his sixth tournament goal in a 4–2 win over Guinea, securing Egypt a 100% record to finish their qualifying group and becoming the joint-top scorer among all African teams in the qualification stages.
On 10 October 2014, Salah scored in a 2–0 win over Botswana, also scoring in the return fixture on five days later on 15 October, in qualifying for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. On 19 November, Salah scored the opening goal in a 1–2 away defeat to Tunisia, as Egypt missed out on qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations finals for a third consecutive time, with their latest successful qualification being in 2010, when they won the competition for a third straight time.
Salah was a member of the Pharaohs’ squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon. On 25 January, he scored in Egypt’s 1–0 win over Ghana to secure first place in Group D. He went all the way to the final with Egypt, scoring twice and assisting two times in 6 games, earning him a place in the CAF Team of the Tournament.
Salah was the top scorer for Egypt with five goals during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, including both goals in the decisive 2–1 victory over Congo, one of which was a penalty in the last minute to make the Pharaohs reach their first World Cup finals since 1990. Despite doubts over his fitness following his shoulder injury, Salah was included in Egypt’s 29-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and was included in their final 23-man squad on 4 June. He missed Egypt’s opening match against Uruguay on 15 June, which the Pharaohs lost 1–0, conceding in the 89th minute. On 19 June, Salah scored a penalty in Egypt’s 3–1 defeat to hosts Russia at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg. In Egypt’s final group game on 25 June, Salah scored his second goal of the World Cup with a chip over the goalkeeper in Egypt’s 2–1 defeat to Saudi Arabia at Volgograd Arena.
On 8 September, in a 6–0 win over Niger in qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Salah scored two goals, provided two assists and also missed two penalties. His first penalty, in the first minute of the game, was saved, while the second he converted the loose ball after it was initially saved.
Awards and achievements
Philanthropy, commercial and social activities
Salah is active in regeneration projects in Nagrig, his hometown where 65% of people live in poverty, donating money to help build a school and hospital.
The project includes the construction of an Al-Azhar institute and an ambulance unit. In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, father of the Egyptian footballer Salah Ghaly, claimed that his son refused to accept any financial assistance with the project.
During his time in Egypt, Salah’s family was once robbed, however, the thief was caught and arrested by police, with Salah’s father preparing to press charges against him, but Mohamed convinced him to drop the case. Afterwards, Salah helped the thief financially, giving him some money and trying to find him a job. In February 2018, following a match against Tottenham, Salah donated a replica shirt to young supporter Mohamed Abdel Karim, who was previously pictured wearing a jumper reading Salah’s name and shirt number. Moreover, Mohamed Salah has helped more than 450 families by giving them monthly allowances and he also helped the government by giving approximately $300,000 when the country was in a bad situation.
Interviews, opinions and scandals
On 30 July 2013, while playing for Basel in a UEFA Champions League qualifying match against Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv, Salah appeared to have refused to shake hands with several of the club’s Israeli players, and instead appeared to have preoccupied himself with changing his boots at the side of the pitch during the ceremony. His club maintained afterwards that it had been a “coincidence” and that no snub had been intended. In the return leg on 6 July played in Tel Aviv, instead of offering an open hand Salah appeared to have only offered fist bumps to the Maccabi players. He was booed by the home fans for the rest of the match, in which he scored once as Basel progressed into the next round.
At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, at which the Egypt national team were based in Chechnya, the autonomous republic presided by Ramzan Kadyrov, Salah posed for a photo with the Chechen leader after the latter made a visit to the team’s hotel and requested a photo shoot with him at the stadium during their team training. Kadyrov later gave him honorary citizenship of the Chechen Republic in a public dinner made for the whole Egypt national team and officials. Several western news outlets and NGOs criticised Salah and the EFA for their interactions with Kadyrov, citing the president’s alleged human rights abuses and that the player is used for ‘political propaganda’ by the dictator during Egypt’s national team training camp in Chechnya. Salah’s relationship with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) was reported to have soured during the World Cup, after his image was used without his permission to promote the national team’s sponsor, WE, the mobile service of Telecom Egypt. At the time of the incident, Salah was sponsored by WE’s telecommunications rivals, Vodafone.
In August 2018, Liverpool referred Salah to Merseyside police after footage was posted online which showed him allegedly using a phone while driving in traffic. Salah’s indiscretion was brought to light after autograph hunter Rob Wylie posted a video online apparently showing the Egyptian ignoring requests for autographs. Wylie, whose conduct had previously resulted in Liverpool instituting a policy which banned players giving autographs from their vehicles, received widespread criticism from the club’s supporters and had to temporarily shut down his website.
|League||Season||Club||Apps||Goals||Assists||Min. played||Cards (Y/S/R)|
|Premier League||2011/2012||Al Mokawloon||15||7||0||1350||1/0/0|
|Premier League||2010/2011||Al Mokawloon||21||4||0||1331||1/0/0|
|League||Season||Club||Apps||Goals||Assists||Min. played||Cards (Y/S/R)|
|League||Season||Club||Apps||Goals||Assists||Min. played||Cards (Y/S/R)|
|UEFA Champions League||2020/2021||Liverpool||1||0||0||60||0/0/0|
|UEFA Super Cup||2019/2020||Liverpool||1||0||0||120||0/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2019/2020||Liverpool||8||4||2||732||0/0/0|
|FIFA Club World Cup||2019 Qatar||Liverpool||2||0||0||210||1/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2018/2019||Liverpool||12||5||2||1058||1/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2017/2018||Liverpool||15||11||4||1110||0/0/0|
|UEFA Europa League||2016/2017||Roma||6||2||1||373||0/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2016/2017||Roma||2||0||0||167||0/0/0|
|UEFA Europa League||2016/2017||Roma||0||0||1||0||0/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2016/2017||Roma||0||0||0||0||0/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2015/2016||Roma||7||1||0||543||0/0/0|
|UEFA Europa League||2014/2015||Fiorentina||8||1||0||718||1/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2014/2015||Chelsea||2||0||0||77||0/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2013/2014||Basel||10||5||0||853||2/0/0|
|UEFA Europa League||2012/2013||Basel||14||2||0||947||0/0/0|
|UEFA Champions League||2012/2013||Basel||2||0||0||106||0/0/0|
|League||Season||National team||Apps||Goals||Assists||Min. played||Cards (Y/S/R)|
|Africa Cup of Nations||2019||Egypt||4||2||0||360||0/0/0|
|WC Qualification Africa||2018||Egypt||5||5||0||450||1/0/0|
|Africa Cup of Nations||2017||Egypt||6||2||0||550||1/0/0|
|WC Qualification Africa||2014||Egypt||8||6||0||720||0/0/0|