From left: Mohammad Salah, Mido and Riyad Mahrez Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Former Egypt and Tottenham striker Mido has said it is unfair to compare levels of professionalism between his generation of Arab players in England to the present, because of the difference in focus and mentality that exists nowadays.

Although one of the first Arabs to play in the English Premier League, Mido’s list of achievements pale in comparison to the likes of Liverpool’s Mohammad Salah and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, who have both won PFA Players’ Player of the Year Awards.

93
Number of goals Mido scored in his 272 appearances.

One of the reasons for this could be the legendary temperament that existed among the old guard of Arab players that no longer shows in this current crop, but Mido said it wasn’t right to draw parallels.

“I think it’s a little bit unfair to say that Arab players before weren’t professional enough, they have a different mentality,” he said on the sidelines of last week’s du Football Champions (duFC) press conference at Gitex.

“You cannot get someone who has been raised up in a totally different culture and ask him to react in the same way as an English, German or Dutch boy does, it’s different,” he added, perhaps hinting at Mahrez being born in France and Salah moving to Switzerland aged 20 - but even Mido himself left Egypt for Belgium aged 17.

17
The age when Mido left Egypt for Belgium.

He also said times had changed and there was a greater spotlight on the players forcing them to be more responsible.

“Players are more focused on their game now because football is different with social media and the attention around the game. Players take good care of themselves and I wish we had this attention. When we were playing I remember when I scored a goal in Europe it was written about in Egypt two days after, so it’s different, we were a bit isolated.

“It could have been better and it could have been worse,” he said of his career, from which he retired at the age of 30, with 93 goals in 272 appearances for his clubs and country.

“I’m proud of what I’ve done, I played at some great clubs, had very good relationships with my teammates who remain very good friends until now, and I think that this is the most important thing about football, to build a relationship and have friends through your career.

2006
The year Egypt won the African Cup with Mido.

“I have some good memories when we won the African Cup in 2006, when we won the league with Ajax after four years without winning it, when I signed for a big club like Tottenham. Very important was qualifying for the Champions League with Celta Vigo for the only time in their history, a lot of good things, never regrets.”

Asked what he was up to now, Mido replied: “I’m getting my coaching badges in Wales, I’ve already done my C and B and I’m almost done with my A badges. I’m getting my Masters in Football Development and Coaching with the University of South Wales, so I’m taking good care of my education, because I don’t think playing experience is enough, I think education is important. I’ve already coached Egyptian clubs Zamalek, Wadi Degla and Ismaily, but now I’m looking for a good opportunity to come to Europe, even as an assistant to a good manager. I’ll get my badges done and then see where it goes.”

The duFC press conference was to announce a new digital scouting platform to run alongside the tournament, which allows players to share footage of their skills and discuss improvements with coaches online, giving them greater chance of being picked up by professional clubs. For more information visit www.dufc.ae and https://talent.dufc.ae/