Dubai: A young 16-year-old compared to a superstar and tipped for the top ... we have heard it all before. But young Mulham Hmidan has a different tale and vision.
Currently balancing time between studies and training at the La Liga High Performance Academy (HPC) in the UAE, the Syrian has the credentials, ambition and skills to make it to the top, all the while keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground.
Mulham is only 16 and has already been touted as the ‘next Mo Salah’, and the young striker is determined to utilise the facilities at his disposal in Dubai in the UAE to reach the very top of the game and make a name for himself.
Very knowledgeable and down-to-earth, Mulham is coy when it comes to comparisons to the Liverpool star, Champions League winner and Premier League top scorer.
“He is a hero of mine, that’s for sure, but each player is their own and I will make my own path rather than be compared to a big name,” he tells Gulf News in a chat. “Many boys have been compared to top stars and never made it — be it through ego, injury or wrong career choices. I prefer to keep my head down and concentrate on my own game and vision.”
The Syrian is also aware of the hardships back in his home country and is grateful that he managed to avoid the harsh realities of war as his parents took him to the UAE as a child, but he says Syria will always be in his heart first and foremost.
“I am a proud Syrian,” he says. “I would not consider another country, despite the potential to represent other nations. Syria is my home. What has happened there is sad and I want to contribute what I can by serving for the national team and bringing them some happiness.”
To an outsider, it is easy to see why he is being likened to superstars such as Salah, given his amazing form in front of goal.
He banged in 23 goals in 16 games during the La Liga HPC League before the coronavirus-enforced shutdown in 2020, and has also shone during scouting camps in Spain as part of his La Liga HPC training, and he already has a management team at Active Sports Management in the UK.
Mulham is only too appreciative of the benefits he gained at HPC and is keen to explore his options at the top leagues in Europe should they arise.
“La Liga HPC has given me a real foot in the door and I know I will be given opportunities in Spain thanks to them. It is a real step on the ladder. But I will not limit my choices to Spain, but rather look across Europe as decide what is best for me. England is — to me — the top league in the world and it would be great to play there,” he says, before adding with a laugh: “If I can cope with the cold weather.”
Mulham did not let the lockdown last year break his stride, illustrating a determination where many others his age may have given up.
“It was weird last year,” he says. “A lot of our studies and training was done online due to COVID-19 and distancing, but I just got on with it like any other challenge and hopefully now we can continue towards our goal.”
He also admitted he would be happy to begin his senior career in the UAE, should one of the Arabian Gulf League side’s give him the opportunity to show his skills to the bigger world. “There are some great teams right here, and we have seen brilliant players like Asamoah Gyan and Cannavaro play here,” he says. “I would love to kick on from playing in the AGL and use it as a stepping stone to Europe.”
With such a smart head on young shoulders, it seems the would could soon, literally, be at his feet.