Aboutrika the greatest African to never play in Europe?

While the Egyptians Mohamed Salah, Mohamed Elneny, Mido, Amr Zaki, and Ahmed Elmohamady are all readily familiar to fans across Europe, comparatively few would instantly recognize their shared nation’s greatest ever player. For Egyptian football fans, this man still stands head and shoulders above his every compatriot?

Egyptian retired professional footballer, Mohamed Aboutrika, often considered the best Egyptian player in history and widely regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time. Who played as an attacking midfielder and a forward.

Mohamed Aboutrika
Mohamed Aboutrika

He scored a decent number of goals for someone in his position, 38 in 100 for Egypt, which places him in fourth place in the Pharaohs’ all-time list and 79 in 163 appearances for Al Ahly. The mercurial star had netted 27 times in 52 games for Tersena before that.

The attacker was named BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2008 while playing for the Red Devils, which made him the second non-based European player after Mohamed Barakat claimed the honor.

Aboutrika was included in the Caf Team of the Year on four occasions and was deservedly named Africa Based Player of the Year on three occasions. Even though He missed out on winning the Caf award for 2008, finishing second to Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor, and that was the only time he made the final three.

Mohamed Aboutrika
Mohamed Aboutrika

His greatness was certainly second to none, but why did he never play in Europe despite ostensibly possessing the quality to thrive outside Africa? This, ironically, could be attributed to his transfer to Ahly in 2004, with Aboutrika claiming that he felt an intense loyalty to Ahly for giving him the platform to shine and supporting him throughout his career. It was a matter of loyalty, not opportunity.

Be that as it may, The five-time Caf Champions League winner, Aboutrika delighted supporters on the continent for a decade. Africa may not see another magician of his ilk again. He trumps El-Khatib, Odegbami, and Chukwu as the greatest African to never play in Europe, and his status here will take some beating over most Africans that played in Europe.

The humble man from Giza, who has a degree in Philosophy, is most fondly remembered for his handling of the Port Said disaster, when 74 Al Ahly fans were killed in a riot after a league match against Al Masry. Iy was reported that In the dressing room, Aboutrika held a dying fan in his arms. “I’m glad I got to meet you,” were the 14-year-old’s final words. To this day, Aboutrika continues to carry the events of that tragic day with him.

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