Rejected by Chelsea, crowned King at Anfield: The story of Mo Salah
The 22nd of July will go down as a historic day for Liverpool. Not because of their 5-3 win against Chelsea, but it was the day the Premier League returned to Anfield after a long wait of 28 years.
After a glorious league run, Liverpool were declared winners with seven games to spare in the 2019/20 season. As Jürgen Klopp and his men lifted the trophy, it was much more special for Mo Salah.
Just last year, the Red’s had a magical night in Madrid as Salah’s penalty against Tottenham contributed for them to be the Champions of Europe, winning the UEFA Champions League.
Discarded as unwanted in the Premier League by Chelsea, it was a moment of redemption for the Champions League winner to lift the silverware in front of the Chelsea opposition.
In a matter of 3 years, Mo Salah transformed himself to be one of the greatest players in the sport, brushing shoulders with the greats.
His life story to success is indeed phenomenal.
So how did he do it?
Growing up in the outskirts of Nagrig, an 18-year-old Mo Salah made his professional debut for FC Mokawloon as a left-back. His style of play made the coaches play him as a forward, but unfortunately, his stint in the Cairo-based club was short-lived.
The Port Said Stadium riots in 2012 made the Egyptian FA cancel the league.
The league cancellation was a blessing in disguise for Salah, as he looked for greener pastures in Europe to continue his passion.
Enter FC Basel
FC Basel was a Swiss club that came through to sign Salah as a free agent. The FC Basel deal was the first taste of the big-leagues for the Egyptian with Basel qualifying for the UEFA Champions League and the Europa Cup.
With two years of experience by his side, the youngster was eager to perform on the big stage.
The opportunity for him came on one fine day when Basel played Chelsea in their group stage game in the UEFA Champions League.
The newly crowned Premier League winner brought in a shocker for the Blues with an 86th-minute strike surpassing Peter Cech to score the match-winner for Basel.
This goal caught the eyes of the Chelsea scouts, who were quick to offer Salah the ticket to London.
A dream turned nightmare!
Chelsea was a dream come true for Salah. But unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team was not the right fit for the Egyptian. In the 19 appearances he made, he came out with only two goals. Salah was not in the first-team plans for Chelsea that year and was considered dead weight.
Chelsea transferred Salah out on loan to Italian club Fiorentina in 2015.
A new lease of life
The move to Italy was what changed Salah around. In the next season with Fiorentina, Salah will go on to score nine goals in all competitions, slowly building attention around him.
His raw talent was spotted quickly by AS Roma and was desperate to have him in their colors.
Playing for AS Roma was the best thing that happened to him.
Coming in as a loan with a chance of being permanent, Salah’s rise to supremacy started at Roma. In the very first season he played, he came out on top with 15 goals under his name.
The season that followed bettered that record with 19 goals to his name. In the two seasons in which he completed 34 goals, he also brought in 23 assists in all competitions.
Little did he know that these two years he spent at AS Roma will prep him for life.
Salah was making headlines in Italy day-in-day-out, and news reached England about the magician.
Redemption in England
On the 22nd of June, 2017, Liverpool signed Mohammed Salah for a record fee of 37 million, making it their highest transfer spend at that time. Salah arrived in a 3-year-contract and raised many eye-brows with many writing him off considering his dismal Chelsea performance.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp backed the Egyptian at that time, looking at his potential and form from his previous seasons.
For Salah, it was the perfect opportunity to prove his haters wrong. Everyone expected Salah to score goals, but only a few anticipated his greatness unfold in the Redshirt in the next three years.
Several doubters were questioning the record fee for Salah when he first moved to Liverpool in the summer, but they have not raised their voices ever since.
Salah made his debut against Watford on 12th August 2017 and got the opportunity of scoring on debut in a 3-3 draw. It was a magnificent start to his Reds campaign, and a few days later, he scored his debut goal at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League play-off round against Hoffenheim.
This great start earned him the Liverpool Player of the Month, and there has been no looking back ever since.
The Incredible season of 2017/18
In his very first season, the records kept coming at a rate that even the fans did not have the energy to keep up.
His scoring spree continued as he brought in goals from every nook and corner. He raced to 20 goals in just 26 appearances, becoming the second-fastest Liverpool player to do so.
Salah went on to score 32 goals that season, the highest by any player in a single season in a premier league, taking the record of former Liverpool player Luiz Suarez.
That year, he became the Premier League Player of the Month on two different occasions and later was the evident pick for the PFA Player of the Year after making the PFA Team of the Year.
With a record of 32 goals, Salah was the winner of the Golden boot.
2018/19 – Kingship
With his reassurance at Liverpool, Salah was leading the charge with the #11 shirt. The 2018/19 season was closely contested with both Manchester City and Liverpool eyeing the top spot.
Liverpool missed out on making history by just 1 point, but there was no stopping Salah.
Salah continued his form scoring 22 goals in the Premier League and sharing the golden boot with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his co-striker Sadio Mane.
Liverpool missed the trick in the Premier League, but their UEFA Champions League campaign saw them in an all-important final against Tottenham in Spain.
That night was a memorable one for all Liverpool fans worldwide with the Reds were crowned as the kings of Europe.
Salah opened the scoring in the 2nd minute of play with a penalty. Liverpool went on to win the trophy 2-0, the first after 14 years.
When Liverpool made the final in 2018, they ended up losing 3-1 to Real Madrid. Salah was out of the game owing to an injury in the first 45 minutes.
The Golden Season of 2019/20
After conquering Europe, Liverpool had one long-overdue trophy needed in their trophy cabinet, the Premier League. Losing out to Manchester City by just a point was heartbreaking.
Liverpool’s start to the season was remarkable. They remained unbeaten for 27 weeks before folding for Watford, but no other team was even close to Liverpool that season.
With seven matches in hand, Liverpool we named as league champions. Salah scored 19 goals and contributed ten assists that season.
It was re-incarnation for the Egyptian king, who was now a premier league winner in the same league that was once a hostile place for him.
Numbers do not lie!
The numbers that add up Salah’s career gives a great indication of his capabilities. From a road bump in 2014, Salah ended up becoming one of the greatest strikers that the Premier League has ever seen.
|FC Basel (Swiss Super League)||2012 – 13||29||5|
|FC Basel (Swiss Super League)||2013-14||18||4|
|Chelsea (Premier League)||2014 -15||10||2|
|Chelsea (Premier League)||2015 – 16||3||0|
|Fiorentina (Serie A)||2014-15||16||6|
|AS Roma (Serie A)||2015-16||34||14|
|AS Roma (Serie A)||2016 – 17||31||15|
|Liverpool (Premier League)||2017-18||36||32|
|Liverpool (Premier League)||2018 – 19||38||22|
|Liverpool (Premier League)||2019 – 20||34||19|
By just looking at the numbers, there is plenty of evidence to see the rise of the Egyptian king. The 2017-18 season can be called the Golden Season for Salah with him breaking the record for the most number of goals in a season coming in front of Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Running strong in the 2020- 2021 campaign, Salah already has a few goals under his name early in this season.
If there is anything that we can learn from the Salah story is that life is unpredictable, but you need to be ready. Salah teaches us that no matter what challenge life throws at you, accept it, and fight back.
In 2014 when Salah crossed over to Chelsea, it was a dream come through for a 22-year-old. But it ended being the complete opposite.
But his shift to Italy became one of the best decisions that he took in his career. If not for this decision, we wouldn’t have known who Mo Salah was, and maybe Liverpool wouldn’t have won all that silverware as well.