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.”

Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

Updated 17 November 2019

Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

  • World Cup semifinalists ‘still have room for improvement as they chase first major title since 1966’

PRISTINA:  Gareth Southgate is set to bring Raheem Sterling back from his brief England exile in Sunday’s qualifier against Kosovo as he seeks to end the controversy over the Manchester City star’s row with Joe Gomez.

Sterling was dropped for Thursday’s 7-0 rout of Montenegro after clashing with England team-mate Gomez in the Three Lions’ training base canteen.

It is believed Sterling was unhappy with Gomez following an altercation with the Liverpool defender during City’s Premier League defeat at Anfield last weekend.

Although Sterling was left out of the Montenegro game as punishment for his attack on Gomez, Southgate has confirmed the winger will return for England’s final Group A fixture.

Sterling and Gomez, left with a scratch under his eye after the incident, are said to have patched up their relationship, but the center-back was jeered by England fans at Wembley when he came on as a substitute against Montenegro.

Both Southgate and Sterling expressed their support for Gomez and criticized the booing supporters, with the England manager reportedly comforting the shocked 22-year-old and his family after the match.

Now Southgate could include Gomez against Kosovo in a show of support for the Liverpool player.

With England already guaranteed to qualify for Euro 2020 in first place in their group, Southgate already planned to make changes, although he is keen to ensure England finish with a win as they eye a top-six seeding in next year’s tournament.

“We will make some changes, for sure, but the seeding in the group could be critical and we know it’s a big night for the Kosovans,” Southgate said.

“It’s a shame for them that they’re now out of this part of the qualification, although they’ve still got the playoffs in which I think they’ll be a huge threat in that format. “So, it will be a good test for us because it will still be a lively environment.

“The enthusiasm for the game is high and we want to finish the group with as many points as we can.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could return following a one-match ban, while Southgate has to decide whether to keep faith with Ben Chilwell ahead of Danny Rose at left-back.

Harry Kane may have scored a hat-trick against Montenegro but it was Leicester’s Chilwell who was named England’s man of the match following a fine display in which he provided three assists in the opening 24 minutes.

“Ben, I liked the hunger in his game, the enthusiasm to get forward,” Southgate said.

“The whole team pressed well but he also pressed well from that full-back position, got into overlaps, his quality of delivery was excellent.”

Although England have cruised through their qualifying group, Southgate believes the 2018 World Cup semifinalists still have room for improvement as they chase a first major title since 1966.

“There were a couple of chances we conceded that just shouldn’t happen, so that’s still part of our game that we’ve got to improve upon,” he said.

“If we are to be a team that are going to challenge seriously, although we’re young, we’ve got to manage games well.

“We’ve got to make sure that, although we’re such a fantastic attacking threat, the rest of the team is right as well. There are things we’ve got to be better at.”