When Mohamed Salah made his move to England, his first move to England, it was too soon. The player was too young, and while the will was there the physical strength to compete in the Premier League simply wasn’t. At Liverpool now in his second stint in England, though, he’s proven he can compete.
More that compete, even. He’s proven he’s a star, so far arguably the Premier League’s—and maybe even all of Europe’s—player of the season. Former Basel sporting director Georg Heitz, who brought the player to Europe, says he knew the 25-year-old Egytpian always had him in it and is enjoying watching him prove it.
“You can see many times players need a period before they feel adapted,” Heitz told The Liverpool Echo. “Mo was very young. He needed a lot of confidence. Managers of big clubs always have a headache because they have so many good players. At some point they have to decide who they can count on.
“Sometimes you need a bit of luck. Maybe someone to get injured so you can get into the team and prove your value. Maybe he was a bit unlucky at Chelsea. What impressed me is how Mo came back from that. It was so good what he did in Italy. He was ready to go to another country [and] he was outstanding there.”
Salah went from a flop at Chelsea to a star in Italy and, at least on the half-season returns, has now taken the step to become a true superstar at Liverpool. More than that, even, he’s a player who is a joy to watch, whose effort and willingness is as clear to see as his speed and skill and ability to finish.
It’s because he really does love the game, according to Heitz. Which might seem a bit of a cliche—after all, who wouldn’t love to be paid a star footballer’s wage to kick a ball? Watching Salah’s smiling endeavour out on the pitch, though, it’s hard to think of a better way to put it—and long may it continue.
“What I always loved about this player then and it’s still true today, he loves the game,” noted Heitz. “For him, football is still a game. Some people forget about that. You can see it now when he plays for Liverpool. He’s out there with a smile on his face. He really enjoys playing football.
“This is the most impressive thing. Football is a big business these days but for Mo it’s still a game.”