Interview | Sam Morsy believes ‘anything is possible’ after win over Man City
Wigan captain Sam Morsy spoke to KingFut’s Ramez Nathan about his side’s hopes in the league, their incredible FA Cup fairytale and how he takes his road to the World Cup with Egypt one step at a time.
The 26-year-old midfielder surely has not enjoyed the final chapter of last season after his side were relegated from the Championship to League One, yet what he and his teammates have achieved this year has been nothing short of a miracle.
“At the start of the season, our goal was to get promoted back to the Championship. We know we have a strong position to do that as we’ve got a very talented squad. There is a lot of hard work to be done but it is something we are in the position to be in.
“However, in terms of playing the quarter-final against Southampton, it wasn’t something we thought of at the start of the season, but after knocking three Premier League clubs out of the competition we now have an opportunity to beat Southampton too and reach the semi-finals, which will be a great achievement.”
In their first clash with a Premier League club, it was Morsy who inspired his side to victory by slotting the ball home past Artur Boruc in the return leg, before Dan Burn and Callum Elder increased the lead to 3-0.
“The Bournemouth game was a big game. In the first-leg at their place we had a 0-2 lead and we ended up drawing 2-2. For the second leg at our home, we had a lot of confidence going into the game, we wanted to start fast and I scored early, the ball came to me and I slotted it home, it was a great feeling and from there we dominated the game.
“After this game, we were very excited for the FA Cup and were really looking forward to our next opponents.”
In their following challenge, the Latics were up against London giants West Ham and after Will Grigg found the opener for the home side, Morsy led by example holding a never-say-die attitude to deny the Hammers by blocking the most crucial two successive shots for the visitors.
“As soon as the tie was drawn, we felt we had a great chance to beat West Ham because we were in good form and very confident.
“I just threw my body on the line, the whole team were defending like our lives depended on it and that is the sort of team spirit which gets you far, everybody willing to fight for the cause.”
Afterwards the draw obliged Wigan to face the most dominant force in English football, Guardiola’s Manchester City, and although Morsy was unlucky to miss the game due to suspension, his teammates pulled out the greatest result in Europe this season.
Morsy said with a huge smile on his face: “After the game, somebody put on the music and all the squad were singing Will Grigg is on fire, it was incredible.
“The Manchester City game was amazing, because no one expected us to have a chance, but the manager was very positive that week in training. Paul Cook was saying as good as they are, we are going to have a goal today, we are going to attack them and we are going to try to win and he gave a big belief to the team.
“We are only the second team to beat Manchester City this season, they are an amazing team with amazing individuals. As the game went on and they had a man sent off at half-time, you slowly started to think we can win this game and then Will Grigg went through one-on-one and it was a wonderful goal.
“Now anything is possible, because once you beat the best, anything is possible it is as simple as that. Can we win it? Who knows, but before the Man City game no one would have said Wigan have a chance to win the FA Cup. Now who knows, maybe we have a chance.
“We have a very tough game against Southampton but if we win, which we believe we can, then we’ll be in the semi-final.”
One man has been dedicated and made his utmost effort that Wigan rise to every occasion leading the side to an unbeaten run of 16 games. It’s Paul Cook.
With his tactically fluid style of football, the coach invited opponents to assume nothing and the Latics’ displays took every opponent by storm.
“He’s a fantastic manager, he is the only English manager to beat Pep Guardiola. He is a great motivator; he lives, breathes and eats football.
“Tactically, he sets the team up to play great football all the time and to play attacking, to be positive.
“I worked with him before at Chesterfield, where he led the club to the League Two championship and promotion, we even finished sixth the following year and had the chance to play in the Championship through play-offs. This season we have an opportunity to get promotion through automatic spots.
“Like me, he was a central midfielder himself, a very talented player. You always try your best to get the most out of your manager and see how he can help you improve.”
At the start of the season, Cook gave Morsy the captain’s armband just like he did back when the pair were at Chesterfield. The boss has always considered the Egyptian a natural leader and a great motivator.
“It is a big responsibility, it means you have to always try to be a leader and help people get the best out of them. I think leadership is how you can help a teammate get a little more out of themselves, how you can encourage them and teach them and that’s a big thing and as a team you become successful when you have these sort of leaders. I believe the Egyptian team has those sort of leaders that is why they’ve been successful.”
Morsy has been constantly in Hector Cuper’s squad, which led Egypt to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years. And apparently family members and the media had a role to play for the boy born in Wolverhampton, England to represent the Pharaohs.
“As a kid I’ve always enjoyed football, loved football. I never really dreamed of playing international football, but I was always encouraged by my uncles and cousins about Egyptian football and I was always given videos of legends to watch.
“I’ve always followed Egyptian football, I got a family that are Al Ahly fans, and an uncle who is a massive Zamalek fan.”
Morsy believes that KingFut and a journalist called Wassim Ahmed both helped in introducing him to Egyptian fans, which represented the first step to becoming part of Cuper’s squad.
“The World Cup is not something I think about, just each camp I am called up for I give 100 per cent. I try my best, I try to impress the coach and my teammates, all I think about is going to the next training camp, I won’t think about the World Cup until I am on a plane to Russia.”
A confident captain with a warrior spirit is not far away from triumphing with three important challenges this season, and his unyielding desire to succeed can take him all the way.
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