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23rd Dec 2017

Mohamed Salah used to play in a different position entirely

Was once a defender

Darragh Murphy

Just like Gareth Bale.

You often hear stories of top, top forwards who started their careers in defensive roles and, just like Real Madrid’s rampaging winger Bale, Mohamed Salah’s starting position wasn’t always so high up the pitch.

Since returning to the Premier League with a move to Liverpool in the summer, Salah has consistently flaunted his finishing prowess as he fired his way to the top of the goalscoring leaderboard, with 15 goals to his name in the league already.

But he was once a left back, would you believe?

“When I coached the under-16 team at Arab Contractors, I had five left full-backs and Salah was one of them,” former youth coach Said El-Shishini told Bleacher Report.

“In one game in the under-16 Cairo League we were playing away against ENPPI, which has a very strong youth setup. We won 4-0 and on that day Salah started at left-back and wasted no less than five one-on-one chances to score.

“What I saw was not the chances he missed, but his ability to dribble from the left-back position until he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. All the running took something away from him, so he wasted the chances.

“But after this game, I saw Salah crying because of the chances he missed—he was weeping! On that day, I gave the player who scored three goals 50 Egyptian pounds and also gave Salah 25 pounds.”

Salah got on the scoresheet on Friday night, when Liverpool were forced to rescue a 3-3 draw against Arsenal despite leading 2-0 after 52 minutes.

After squandering a few chances in the first half, Salah saw a deflected effort of his nestle in the back of Petr Cech’s net.

And Reds supporters will be very grateful that Salah’s former manager encouraged him to switch positions all those years ago.

“From that day onwards I decided to play Salah as a right-winger,” El-Shishini explained. “I told him he would be the team’s top goalscorer in both leagues, the U16 Cairo League and the U17 Nationwide League. I coached both teams and played Salah in both the leagues.

“By the end of the season he had scored 35 goals combined. Since then, he has never stopped scoring.”