Sadly unavailable for the Egypt national team at the Africa Cup of Nations due to injury, 31 year old Mohamed Aboutrika is a true African football phenomenon who has been dubbed the Egyptian Zinedine Zidane. Visionary and smooth on the field, he is a joy to watch.
Born into a poor, humble neighbourhood, Aboutrika joined the then-second division team, Tersana Club, at 12 and was promoted to the first team at 17. As top scorer for two seasons, he was key in their promotion to the Egyptian league.
His high impact on the Egyptian League won him call-ups to the Egyptian National Olympic team as well as the national military team. While an adept and skillful playmaker, he also has a knack for scoring goals and his influential play for Tersana scored him a deal with one of Africa’s leading clubs, Al Ahly, in 2004.
He is humble, has a degree in Philosophy and is committed to impacting positively on his community and society – he is a World Food Programme Ambassador Against Hunger. He has been instrumental in Al-Ahly’s numerous accomplishments in the last five years, which include:
- FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Medallist 2006
- CAF Champions League Winner 2005, 2006, 2008
- Egyptian League Champion 2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009
- African Super Cup Winner 2006, 2007, 2009
- Egyptian Soccer Cup Winner 2006, 2007
- Egyptian Super Cup Winner 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
His first run-out with the Egyptian national team, the Pharoahs, was in 2004 and he has become the engine of a team that has won the Africa Cup of Nations a record five times with Aboutrika involved in the 2006 and 2008 tournaments but sadly not this year.
He is also the only African-based player to be nominated for the 2006 and 2008 CAF African Footballer of the Year Award coming in second both times. He has, however, accumulated a plethora of accolades, such as:
- 2008 BBC African Footballer of the Year
- 2008 CAF Best African player in Club Competition
- 2006 CAF Best African player in Club Competitions
- 2006 FIFA Club World Cup top goal scorer
- 2006 CAF Champions League top goal scorer
- 2005 – 2006 Egyptian League top goal scorer
- 2007 Egyptian Soccer Cup top goal scorer
- 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Best Egyptian Player of the Year
- 2008 African Cup of Nations Final man of the match
Aboutrika is a ‘what-if’. What if he had left Egypt Domestic League and signed for an international club, what heights would he have reached? In a way, he is a throw-back to the era when a player plays for mainly one club their whole professional career. What if Egypt had qualified for the World Cup? At his age, he may still be playing at the next Africa Cup of Nations but we may never see him at the World Cup. Sad.