Dubai: Mohammad Salah has become a role model for young people in Egypt. Salah for them is more than a talented footballer. He is a symbol of hard work, giving hope to a generation that is struggling to succeed.
Salah featured in a video encouraging young Egyptians to stay away from drugs earlier this month. The “You Are Stronger Than Drugs” campaign was launched by the Fund for Drug Control and the Treatment of Addiction (FDCTA), affiliated with Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity.
The video has got more than three million views across social media platforms - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Salah appears in the video jogging in a forest, stumbles across a young boy having to choose between drugs and his friends.
After the boy saw Salah, he chose to hang out with his friends and enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle rather than get lured into the dangerous world of drugs.
“Get addicted to success, don’t get addicted to what drags you backwards. You are stronger than surrender. You are stronger than drugs. You sure won’t let it beat you,” Salah says at the end of the video.
Salah believes that everyone should be given a chance to better themselves, and that’s why he is driving the drug abuse campaign in Egypt.
According Social Solidarity Minister, Ghada Waly the drugs rehabilitation hotline has witnessed an overwhelming 400 per cent increase in calls after the campaign due to the appearance made by the football star.
Egypt has a growing drug problem that officials are struggling to control. The rate of drug addiction in Egypt has reached 10 per cent (9.6 million people) which is twice global rates, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity.
His friends describe him as a humble young man. “When he comes back to his village, Najrish, about 100km from Cairo, he signs every autograph, stands for every picture. He hasn't changed,” a childhood friend told the Daily Mail. “Salah still comes back to Najrish, every Ramadan, to present prizes to local kids.”
Salah’s love for his village has not changed. He has created many projects - one of them is the Azhari Institute for Girls, being built at a cost of 8 million Egyptian pounds. Village mayor Maher Shatiya said he is also building an ambulance service. Salah has established a foundation that helps his fellow villagers who are in need.
Salah tells the Daily Mail that his family home was once burgled. The thief was caught two days later and despite his father wanting to press charges, Salah asked him to drop the case. Salah proceeded to give the thief some money to build his life. He even tried to help him find a job.