Mohamed Salah ‘a gentle killer,’ says former boss Heiko Vogel

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. (AFP)
Updated 28 August 2019

Mohamed Salah ‘a gentle killer,’ says former boss Heiko Vogel

  • 27-year-old forward was integral part of Liverpool’s Champions League success last season
  • Vogel said Salah’s early difficulties were understandable

LONDON: Egyptian star Mohamed Salah may be setting European and English football alight now but when he arrived in Switzerland he cast a few doubts in the mind of his first coach Heiko Vogel.
The 27-year-old forward — an integral part of Liverpool’s Champions League success last season — has started the campaign in flying form scoring a double in last Sunday’s win over Arsenal.
Vogel, though, told the German SPOX website he wondered whether Salah had the mental strength to succeed when he asked him to come for a week long trial in 2012 — on the back of scoring a double for the Egyptian Under-23 side against Basel in a friendly.
“It was always clear to me that he is an outstanding player, but whether he had the mentality? I didn’t know that exactly,” said Vogel.
“Momo is a gentle killer.
“I would be lying if I had prophesied such a massive global career for him.”
Vogel then asked Basel’s scouts in Egypt to confirm his potential by taking video footage of him.
“I wondered whether the videos had been speeded up,” he said.
“He had everything — the speed, the finish, the left foot.
“Then he trained on the first day (in Switzerland); everyone watched the session and we wondered if he might have a twin brother.”
Vogel, who picks out Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka as the most impressive of the Premier League-based stars he coached at Basel with Salah and his Liverool team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri the other two, said things progressively got better.
“The second day was a bit better, but not good.
“And then came the third day. It was then that he destroyed everything, he was really unstoppable.
“It was absolutely extraordinary. He was so agile, so explosive. If he had the ball on his left foot, it was a goal.
“After that performance everyone knew why we wanted to sign him.”
Vogel, who was sacked on October 2012 only months after clinching the domestic double, said Salah’s difficulties were understandable.
“Momo was very sure of himself, but he was immersed in a new world,” said Vogel.
“He had to acclimatize, in the most literal sense of the word.
“He came to us from the heat of North Africa.
“It is always difficult when you come into an environment where you don’t speak the language.”
Salah, though was keen as mustard to learn German something which Vogel did his best to dissuade him from doing.
“He couldn’t speak English at all,” said the 43-year-old German, who is presently coaching third tier German side KFC Uerdingen.
“He wanted to learn German but I said to him: ‘Slow down, champion. German is difficult. Learn English, that’ll be enough for you.’
“Momo had a really great agent there who could speak English, so we spoke through him.”


Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

Updated 12 min 27 sec ago

Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

  • The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS: Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder made one last appearance Friday before their big heavyweight title fight, weighing in and taunting each other before a raucous crowd at the MGM Grand arena.
Wilder weighed 231 pounds, the heaviest of his career, for his 11th title defense. Fury, meanwhile, tipped the scales at 273 pounds, just 3 pounds short of his heaviest ever, too, for Saturday night’s rematch.
The fighters jawed at each other from a distance after getting on the scales in the arena. Nevada boxing officials ruled they would not have a faceoff after pushing each other at the final press conference on Wednesday.
Thousands of fans, most of them supporting Fury, jammed the arena, waiting for several hours for the fighters to make their brief appearance on the scales. Though separated, the two fighters jawed at each other, much like they did at the press conference promoting the pay-per-view bout.
``I just told him, `24 hours, 24 hours,’’’ Wilder said. ``He’s nervous, nervous energy as always.’’
The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles. The fight is arguably the biggest heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis demolished Mike Tyson in 2002, and both fighters could make some $40 million if the pay-per-view sells well.

Wilder weighed in at 231 pounds. (AFP)

Fury weighed in 16.5 pounds heavier than the first fight, and just 3 pounds short of what he weighed in his first comeback fight in 2018 after being out of the ring with drug and alcohol problems. Wilder was also heavier than expected, weighing 18.5 pounds more than the first fight.
``The weight’s not a problem,’’ the 6-foot-9 Fury said. ``It’s 273 pounds of pure British beef.’’
A fight that promises intriguing matchups matches two fighters with claims to titles — Fury’s is the mythical lineal crown — in a rematch of their draw a little more than a year ago. In that fight, Fury dominated the boxing but Wilder knocked him down in the ninth and 12th rounds before the judges scored it a draw.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 knockouts) predicted in the weeks leading up to the fight he would weigh about 270 pounds. He said he added the weight because he intends to go after Wilder from the opening bell in the rematch to try and score an early knockout.
``At the end of the day, we’re heavyweights,’’ Wilder said. ``So it doesn’t really matter about the weight.’’
In addition to the weight, Fury will have to deal with the possibility of the cut suffered around his right eye in his last fight will reopen. He usually trains without headgear but used it for the rematch because of the 47 stitches it took to sew the cut up after his hard-fought win in September against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) is making the 11th defense of the crown he won in 2015, the same year Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to win a piece of the title. Fury didn’t fight for more than two years after that, giving up his crown as he descended into mental and drug problems and his weight ballooned to 375 pounds.