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Ramadan Tales E1: Al Ahly and Zamalek fight over Lamie
Happy Ramadan! To celebrate this fantastic month, KingFut are going to bring you with ‘Ramadan Tales’, a series split over the month telling an enticing and compelling story about Egyptian football. Here, we bring you the transfer saga of Lamie.
Being the two biggest clubs in Egypt and Africa, it’s quite normal for Al Ahly and Zamalek to have their off-field battles as well. In the past few days we’ve seen Whites chairman Mortada Mansour claiming to have signed Wydad Casablanca striker Malick Evouna – who has been on Al Ahly’s radar for quite some time now.
Who can forget the Momen Zakaria saga back in January when the player himself signed for both clubs? The current Al Ahly man even reportedly signed the deal way past midnight, just after he’d put pen to paper to make his move to the Whites permanent, having spent 18 months there on loan from ENPPI.
Another transfer battle also occurred towards the end of last season when Zamalek were able to secure the signings of then-Ittihad El-Shorta trio Moruf Yusuf, Khaled Kamar, and Reda El-Azab – resuming the transfer window competition between both sides which has seen other headline making sagas such Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’, Hani Said, Reda Abdelaal, Islam El-Shater, Amr Samaka, Ahmed Hassan, and many more.
However, despite all of those making major headlines – the ‘Lamie saga’ in 1966 remains the most notable of all, the time when the two Cairo giants had a gigantic tug of war over then-Mansoura striker Lamie Abdelsamie (لمعي عبد السميع).
A Tayaran youth product, Lamie – who hailed from a town next to Mansoura – was making headlines at the oranges. The forward hadn’t turned 21 yet, but was already the league’s top goalscorer. To highlight his form, his closest competitor on the field was late Tersana legend Hassan El-Shazly, the Egyptian Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer. Lamie was a legend in the making, and clubs knew it; several reports even went as far as saying that his finishes were unstoppable – a shot at goal would cause damage to the opposition.
What needs to be taken into consideration when the Lamie story is brought about is both sides had signed a pact to stop transfer wars in July 1957. However, as history tells us, such a pact has been agreed on a myriad times, but none have ever truly come to fruition. Lamie – a boyhood Reds fan – wanted to make the move to Mokhtar El-Tetsh, but by letting him go there, Zamalek would be giving their arch-rivals a top class forward. Not only that, but the rivalry had reached boiling point back then, with a derby game being abandoned in November that year due to violence from Al Ahly fans.
Both sides went in for Lamie, a Red Castle fan. And that’s how it all started.
One day at midnight a school doorman headed over to legendary Al Ahly scout ‘A’am’ Abdo El-Baqal (عم عبده البقال) informing him that someone donning a traditional ‘galabeya’ wanted to see him. Abdo El-Baqal, as the name would tell, was not a traditional scout but rather a scout focusing on picking up raw talent from the street. In fact, one time he picked up a barefooted player from the a youth centre by the name of Said El-Hafy (literally barefooted in Arabic). The only problem was that Said El-Hafy, in spite of his talent, did not want to play with shoes on, blocking his seemingly inevitable move to the Reds. Abdo El-Baqal knew a good player from a bad one.
To El-Baqal’s luck, the man donned in a traditional galabeya was Lamie’s father, Abdelsamie, who made it clear to the scout that his son wants to play for the Reds. The former asked him whether his son is an Al Ahly fan or not to which the elderly Abdelsamie replied: “he’s a bigger Ahlawy than you!”
Brimming with ecstasy, El-Baqal travelled to Mansoura and had a verbal agreement with the club president, before taking Lamie to train with the Reds in Alexandria. No fee was agreed though, something Zamalek took advantage of.
When legendary Whites president Mohamed Hassan Helmy ‘Zamoora’ knew about the inevitable transfer, he went to Mansoura and told the club president that he’ll offer double the amount the Reds offered for the player, despite not knowing the offered fee in the first place. To his surprise, there wasn’t one, rather the oranges wanted to ship the player off to Al Ahly due to him being an avid Ahlawy.
The Mansoura president decided to go with the player’s will, after Lamie claimed that he won’t sign for the Whites even if the club accepted their offer. The headlines were made, and the transfer saga was pretty much on.
Minister of Sports Talaat Khairy was next to interfere – a self-proclaimed Zamalek fan, he wanted Lamie to move to the Whites, promising to give him a salary of his choice. However, the second surprise came about; Lamie rejected the Minister’s offer, saying that if he doesn’t get his move to the Reds he’ll stay in the Dakahleya capital. Tensions were high but everything ignited when Tayaran – Lamie’s former club – went in for the player as well! The 20-year-old from Mansoura was under the national spotlight, everyone was talking about Lamie.
In the end, things were settled when all parties involved went into a meeting with Talaat Khairy, and former Field Marshall, Abdelhakim Amer. The closed session though didn’t last for more than 30 minutes, as Lamie made it clear that he had no intention of moving but to his boyhood club.
The saga, at last, was settled by the second most important man in Egypt at the time.
Lamie’s start to his Al Ahly career was great, but soon he got caught up in the spotlight, with his interests drifting away from football. Despite not fulfilling his potential as a player, he is still remembered as the man who instigated a saga akin to a street fight between Africa’s biggest clubs.