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The evolution of Egyptian wonderkid Ramadan Sobhi

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Michael Regan/Getty Images

KingFut’s Youssef Wael takes us through the evolution of Egypt’s wonderkid Ramadan Sobhi; from his first appearance in Al Ahly t-shirt to staring for Stoke City in the English Premier League.

Playing for an Egyptian Premier League side is a dream for many Egyptian children and teenagers, with the ultimate goal is to eventually play for Al Ahly or Zamalek. That’s how it all started for 16-year old Ramadan Sobhi, who had worked really hard during his time in Al Ahly’s youth system until achieving promotion to the first team. Sobhi made his first team debut for Al Ahly in February 2014 against Ghazl El Mahalla, in the Egyptian Premier League and went on to score 15 goals in his 71 appearances for the Red Devils across all competitions.

WATCH | Individual Highlights: 16-year-old Ramadan Sobhi’s first official match with Al Ahly

The youngster was impressive with Al Ahly’s U17 side in a friendly tournament in UAE, attracting the attention of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. In his second season with the first team, Sobhi was a regular starter under Spanish manager Juan Carlos Garrido whilst maintaining his level of performances, in turn attracting attention from European sides like AS Roma, Udinese, Arsenal and RB Leipzig. The 19-year old wonder kid had a very impressive time at Al Ahly winning the Egyptian Premier League and Egyptian Super Cup twice, as well as winning the 2014 CAF Confederations Cup, all before turning 17 years old.

WATCH | Video: Ramadan Sobhi shines as Al Ahly thrash U-17 Botafogo 4-0

Ramadan Sobhi, Ramadan Sobhi Stoke

Photo: Al Ahly SC

By this point, the young Egyptian sensation had impressed almost everyone that English club Stoke City acquired his services from Al Ahly for a fee in the region of £5 million. One can understand how big a player is when an English Premier League side acquires his services for this sum at the age of 17 from a league that didn’t ship a player to the EPL before. With the eyes of so many keen to see him perform, Sobhi has been under a lot of pressure in his early days with the Potters. After Mohamed Salah‘s success in Europe, Egyptians were expecting the same success from Sobhi, causing some Egyptians to grow impatient. Everyone was left frustrated due the reluctance of Stoke City’s manager Mark Hughes to give Ramadan game time at the beginning of the season. Hughes has however vocally encouraged patience amongst both Stoke supporters and Egyptians.

READ | Sobhi will get game time, but patience is required from Egyptian fans

Sobhi made his English Premier League debut in Stoke’s loss against Manchester City and first starred against Swansea City, also in the Premier League. Sobhi put in a fantastic performance against Swansea City after coming on for the injured Xherdan Shaqiri halfway through the first half. Sobhi’s skill down the left wing culminated in Stoke’s second goal as Alfie Mawson turned Sobhi’s ball into his own net following a dazzling run from the Egyptian.

The Egyptian’s great performance against Swansea earned him a first league start against West Ham United which ended in a 1-1 draw. All eyes were on Sobhi, who worked tirelessly both in attack and defence, impressing the fans and his teammates. Ex-Manchester United midfielder and former Stoke City manager Lou Macari said,“I bet Ramadan had to work for whatever he achieved back home in Egypt and, fingers crossed, that work ethic remains a natural for him for the rest of his career.”

READ | Abdallah El-Said: I miss playing with Ramadan Sobhi

The Pharaoh has also impressed his teammate Joe Allen so much that the Welshman has said,”He’s able to tie defenders in knots at times, so he’s another one who every time he’s been called upon he’s done great. You saw on that second goal vs Swansea that he was able to create and that was probably the difference in the end.”

Ramadan Sobhi

Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Commenting on his performance against West Ham United, Stoke boss Mark Hughes said,“Ramadan was superb, and his work rate and desire was absolutely second to none – he is a really exciting player for us, especially when you take in to the fact that he is still 19-years-old.”

READ | Hughes: Sobhi is going to have a big impact at Stoke

As for the Egyptian National Team, Sobhi has become a source of pride for Egyptians. He scored 6 goals in his 19 matches with the U-18 squad, featured twice for the U-20 and scored 4 goals in 9 matches with U-23 before being promoted to the first team. Ramadona got his first team debut in 2015 against Tanzania in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers. Sobhi became a hero after scoring Egypt’s only goal against Nigeria, which was his first senior international goal, putting Egypt on the verge of qualification for the 2017 African Cup of Nations for the first time since 2010.

Sobhi is undoubtedly talented, blessed with pace, skill, and work ethic; qualities which are definitely an asset playing in the fast paced English Premier League. Sobhi is also quite mature physically for his age, as seen in the recent 1-1 draw with West Ham, and has a bright future ahead of him, both at a club level and on the international stage. The boy has got what it takes to even make the move to a bigger club.

Youssef Wael is a massive Al Ahly and Manchester United supporter from Cairo, Egypt. One of the few Egyptians who never really wanted to have a career in football, just played it as a hobby. Wael also played squash for 7 years.

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