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Amr Zaki – The Fall of the Bulldozer
“How the mighty have fallen” seems to be the perfect description for Amr Zaki’s fall from grace as the proclaimed ‘Egyptian Bulldozer’ has run out of diesel, it seems. The striker has arrived in Iraq to reportedly conclude negotiations with Iraqi Premier League side Zakho, despite claiming he has other offers from Russia and Championship side Blackpool.
Zaki terminated his contract with Elazığspor during the winter after an unsuccessful spell in Turkey, failing to score in 8 matches since his move in the summer. His return to his old club Al-Zamalek was refused by the club’s chairman Mamdouh Abbas, due to his heavy wages, leaving Zaki as a free agent and in search for a club to harbor the once top scorer of the English Premier League.
Zaki’s rapid rise to stardom started after joining newly promoted ENPPI from second tier club Al-Mansoura in 2003-2004. On his second season he became the League’s top goal scorer while helping the club to it first ever Egyptian Cup and being runners-up in the league. Due to his achievements at club level he was called up to the national team in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, in which he scored the winner against Senegal right after replacing Mido in the semi-finals. Amr Zaki was in a great form, he was hot merchandise and several clubs were looking to sign him, he eventually signed for Locomotiv Moscow in 2006 and never played a single minute. He was subsequently signed by Zamalek where he spent two impressive years scoring 35 goals before being loaned to Wigan Athletic.
Zaki started off the season in sensational form; he scored on his debut against West Ham United and carried on to bag 5 goals in 6 games including a penalty against Manchester City making him the league’s top scorer at the time. He followed up on his great start and gained huge momentum scoring a double against Liverpool, including a magnificent overhead finish, further solidifying his position as the league’s top scorer. Zaki was surely living the dream, causing massive stir in the English media and was dubbed the signing of the season at the time. Rumors also circulated about numerous ‘big clubs’ after his signature including Liverpool, after the impressive performance he put in against them. The marksman’s style of play together with his strong physique suited English football perfectly and great things were expected from the striker with boss Steve Bruce highly impressed with the Egyptian while Wigan Athletic chairman David Whelan compared him to the legendary Alan Shearer.
Unfortunately, Zaki blew all the hype surrounding his name and wasted a chance to be one of the greatest. After failing to return to Wigan from international duty and several other incidents in which he failed to turn up on time to the club, he triggered Steve Bruce’s frustration, who told the public, “I can honestly say that in all my time in football I have never worked with someone as unprofessional.” After having a host of European clubs at his feet, Zaki’s loan with Wigan ended with him returning to Zamalek in the 2009-2010 season, where he continued to decline. After a season of injuries with Zamalek and an unsuccessful return to the English Premier League in January 2010 with Hull City, on a loan until the end of the season, in which he failed to score a single goal.
Amr Zaki wasn’t the first Egyptian to fail in seizing the opportunity he had in hand. Unfortunately, he is represented as the stereotypical Egyptian player abroad who is egocentric and over-hyped with undeniable talent wasted due to poor work-ethics and a weak mentality in understanding the professionalism required to compete at the top level. With the Egyptian national team lacking in top strikers to choose from, Zaki still receives regular call-ups but with his proposed move to Iraq and only scoring a single goal since 2012, it’s hard to see ‘The Bulldozer’ with the squad for much longer. Technically, he’s got a couple of good years ahead of him, being only 29 years old, but will he return to his old form and makes use of his remaining years as football player? I doubt it; but I hope he’ll surprise us..