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Player Profile: Amro Tarek
Name: Amro Tarek Abdel-Aziz
Date of Birth: May 17, 1992
Height: 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Current Club: Columbus Crew (USA), on loan from Real Betis (Spain)
Previous Club(s): Magdeburg II, Freiburg II, Wolfsburg II, El-Gouna FC
Position: Left-back, centre-back
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Amro Tarek Abdel-Aziz is one of Egypt’s most travelled ‘Pharaohs Abroad’, having completed his move to Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew on loan from Real Betis earlier this week. At the age of 23, the Egyptian-American left-back has already joined six clubs in his professional career, from Germany to Spain via Egypt, and now in the United States of America.
Born in Los Angeles, California to Egyptian parents, Amro Tarek moved to Egypt at an early age, settling in Asyut. Amro joined local side Asyut Cement at the age of seven, where he was coached by a German manager, before he joined the youth setup at ENPPI FC in 2009, aged 17.
In 2010, the young Egyptian-American made his move to Europe, joining former UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup champions 1.FC Magdeburg in Germany, initially on a 15-day trial before putting pen-to-paper. Amro quickly adapted to the German game and became a regular with Magdeburg’s U-19s.
Having impressed with FC Magdeburg, scouts from Bundesliga clubs took note, and Amro soon bounced around the country’s youth sides, joining SC Freiburg II the following summer, while also having a trial with Bayern Munich, before eventually signing for Wolfsburg in May 2012. Amro played mainly at left-back or left-midfield with Wolfsburg II, scoring one goal and assisting another in 20 appearances for the U-23s back then.
Tarek was on the verge of yet another move, this time to Croatia with HNK Hajduk, after terminating his contract with Wolfsburg just over a year later. However, the move collapsed after the club informed him and his agent that he would have to undergo a 10-day trial before signing, which he immediately refused as these were not the terms both parties had agreed upon.
Amro then returned to Germany before packing his bags for a light trip to his birth place, the United States of America. The left-footed defender arrived to America one week before the end of the MLS season, and Chivas USA informed him that he would have to wait two long months for the league’s new season. However, after one match with Chivas USA Reserves – a 4-1 win against Portland Timbers in the MLS Reserves League – the young defender returned to Egypt.
Egypt meets Amro
Amro Tarek signed with El-Gouna FC in November 2014, where he played under former Bayern Munich player Rainer Zobel. This is where Amro finally went on to showcase to Egyptians what he can offer in defence. Speed, quick reactions and timed tackles are a few of the set of skills he delivered during his debut season in the Egyptian Premier League.
The Egyptian’s second season was no less impressive than his first. The 1.89m left-back was constantly linked with a move to Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek, and even promised former Ahly official Haitham Orabi that if he failed to move abroad, he would be a Red Devil the following season.
In November 2014, Tarek underwent a trial with Swiss Super League side FC Luzern but returned to continue his season with El-Gouna. Finally, a 23-year-old Amro made his biggest move yet, signing for newly-promoted La Liga side Real Betis on a four-year-deal, becoming the second Egyptian to make a move to the Spanish top flight after Ahmed Hossam ‘Mido’, who had a short loan spell with Celta Vigo.
Following the transfer to Betis, Tarek struggled with adaptation and also injuries, and as a result didn’t feature for the Betis first team. On the following morning of the 2016 January transfer window deadline day, Real Betis announced that they had agreed a one-year loan deal with Columbus Crew, making Tarek the first-ever Egyptian to head to Major League Soccer.
Amro has only represented Egypt at the youth level – with one U-20 cap to his name – but has never been called up to the senior squad, making him eligible to represent the USA. The young defender was previously scouted by the American U-23 national team, however, he didn’t put on the stars and stripes.
One trait has shaped up Amro’s career thus far: determination – a value most Egyptian players lack. The player’s ambition always fuels his performances, and he’s not afraid to take one step back in order to follow up with multiple forward. This worked wonders for Amro’s return from Germany to Egypt, earning him a move to Spain, and Egyptians will hope to see him shine in America and eventually return to a top European league, and claim his place with the Egyptian national team.
- Mohamed Osama contributed to reporting