An electronics engineer in Cairo who looks like Mo Salah has revealed the highs and lows of being a dead ringer for the footballing superstar.
Ahmed Bahaa is used to being mistaken for the Egyptian player because of the strong resemblance, and has even appeared as Salah in ad campaigns for cellphones and bottled water when the player was unavailable.
Fans take selfies with him, thinking they are standing next to their hero, and foreign TV channels ask him for interviews.
But the 32-year-old revealed he could have been killed because of the physical similarities with the striker.
He went to Arab League Street, one of the most crowded places in Cairo’s Mohandiseen area, to celebrate Egypt winning a soccer match. “People thought I was Salah and crowded around me. I couldn’t get out. The police saved me,” he told Arab News.
Bahaa met Salah at his home once, with the engineer recalling how he was welcomed with warmth and hospitality. The pair took photographs together.
“When I walk on the street, people think I’m Salah,” he said. “They ask to take pictures with me. They always call me Salah at work and public places, not Ahmed. Even my own kids sometimes call me Salah. When the Egyptian soccer team reached the World Cup, I ate, drank and took transportation, all for free, because I looked like Salah. Even when I went out with my wife and kids, a lot of people took photos with me.”
There have been examples of mistaken identity in more unusual places too.
“I once went to the British Embassy in Cairo to apply for a visa. All of a sudden the officers took me to a private room. They thought I was Salah and surrounded me while taking photos.”
Salah joined Liverpool in 2017 and, according to transfermarkt, has a current market value of €150 million ($167 million). He has more than 10 million followers on Twitter and more than 33 million followers on Instagram, sharing candid shots of his life on and off the pitch. Bahaa, who has a more modest following on Instagram, is also a fan.
“I used to be a soccer player but had to stop to focus on my work. I have loved Salah since I was young. He is a national symbol and international role model for all young people. I am happy that I look similar to Salah. It’s such a great honor. We look very similar if you compare the hair, chin, and smile.”
The engineer added that he wanted to be a famous actor and make a film about Salah’s success story.