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Mido: Salah should stick to Totti
Former Roma striker and newly-appointed Ismaily manager Ahmed Hossam ‘Mido’ talks about Mohamed Salah, Marwan Mohsen, playing abroad, and his young managerial career in an interview with Sport 360.
Ask any European football fan who the most famous Egyptian export of the noughties was and there will be a unanimous answer. Ahmed Hossam Hussein Abdelhamid, better known as Mido, was once a force of nature on the football pitch – playing in the Eredivisie, Ligue 1, La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League during an impressive career.
Despite a glittering array of clubs on his CV, including Ajax, Marseille, Roma and Tottenham, there is no question that Mido’s isstill a tale of unfulfilled potential. That his playing career ended in the less-than-illustrious surrounds of Barnsley in England’s Championship is a sad fact.
Possessing a broody demeanour and an effortless scoring touch, Mido was a rare example of a player as controversial as he was charismatic at a time when well-polished, media savvy players were – as now – the norm.
While many admired the enigmatic Egyptian’s abilities on the pitch, few would have predicted that a player who often appeared to have little time for authority figures, would move into management. Indeed, in his first coaching role at boyhood club Zamalek, Mido won the Egyptian Cup but swiftly fell out with club president Mortada Mansour and resigned. (Although it must be said that those who know the eccentric Mansour would have some sympathy for Mido).
Now in the hotseat at Ismaily, Mido is attempting to mould a new Egyptian generation, capable of taking the country to a first World Cup since 1990. One of his greatest challenges is to convince his players that all that glitters is not gold when it comes to Egyptians moving to Europe.
“Players here are largely influenced by star players in Europe, but what is baffling is that they are so star-struck that they tend to lose their confidence completely and think that they are not good enough,” Mido tells Sport360 at the club’s training ground. “My main job is to make them trust themselves and their abilities.”
It is a tough sell, particularly when players like Mohamed Salah are becoming national idols for their exploits on another continent. Salah has recently followed in Mido’s footsteps by moving to Roma, but the Ismaily coach warned his compatriot to remain focused or risk falling short of his undoubted potential.
“At Chelsea, Salah could not understand Jose Mourinho, and vice versa. And with Willian and Oscar, Salah’s situation was getting worse. He went to Fiorentina but left because he thought he was good enough for Roma, a club that will enjoy being in the Champions League this season.
“I only hope that Salah achieves what me, Hazem Emam [11 league games in five years at Udinese], and Hani Said [45 games in six years at Bari, Messina and Fiorentina] could not achieve. He must aim for glory without giving up.”
“Make sure to stick to Francesco Totti all the time,” Mido says. “Totti is charismatic, respected, and loved by everyone at the capital. He is such a friendly guy, and he knows how to deal with youngsters and lead them well. His departure would be a disaster for Rome, a loss to football in general.
“Rome is a fantastic city. I spent some of the best days of my life in Rome even though I did not succeed as a footballer there. The city is similar to Egypt, and the people are unbelievably nice.”
Not only does Mido find himself needing to build the confidence of players who feel inferior having not yet played in Europe, he must repair those who tried and failed. New signing Marwan Mohsen, who struggled in Portugal with Gil Vicente last season, is one such project.
“Marwan is a great player,” Mido asserts. “He has been suffering from injury and that is why he could not succeed in Portugal, but I will work with him, and I am sure he can boost the team’s attack “.
Mido may be finding his feet as a coach but his self-assured nature means he still manages to exude esteem. He is certainly confident that his globetrotting career has given him an advantage when it comes to coaching.
“I am the type of coach who does not belong to one school, but my playing style is closer to the Dutch way, especially because I have played under many Dutch coaches,” he explains. “From every Dutch coach I played for I managed to get ideas that I am looking to implement. I believe that the Dutch academies are the best footballing institutions in the world.
“However, modern football also depends on physical strength – that is what I learned in Europe. I’m always working on the physical side of things. We want to increase the players’ awareness and improve their durability from a young age. When the players get roughed up in training they tend to be much more obedient.”
As he did throughout his 14-year playing career, Mido is very much still doing things his way.