Salah retains African football award

DAKAR • Egypt striker Mohamed Salah was named the African Footballer of the Year for the second straight year at the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) awards ceremony in Dakar on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Liverpool star finished first in a vote by technical directors and head coaches of 56 CAF member associations, with clubmate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon the other finalists.

"This award is very big for me. I have dreamt of winning this award since I was a child and now I have done so twice in a row," said Salah, who won BBC's African Footballer of the Year award last month.

"My thanks go to my family, my teammates and my fans, and I dedicate this trophy to my homeland Egypt."

It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud El Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.

Salah netted 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season - his first with the Reds - and has bagged 13 Premier League goals so far this season.

He was born in a northern Egyptian town Nagrig and used to make eight-hour return trips on buses to train with Cairo-based El Mokawloon (Arab Contractors).

Spotted by scouts from Swiss club Basel, he moved there in 2012 before joining Chelsea two years later.

Salah found scoring difficult early in his professional career and was nicknamed "chancentod" (chance killer) by the Swiss media.

Unhappy with his two-goal return, Chelsea loaned Salah to Italian outfits Fiorentina and Roma, then sold him to the latter club.

Salah blossomed in Rome, averaging close to a goal every two matches, and Liverpool paid almost £37 million (S$63.8 million) to sign him two years ago.

His next goal will be to match the four straight African awards won by former Manchester City and Ivory Coast star Yaya Toure.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'Salah retains African football award'. Print Edition | Subscribe