AbuTrika Stays Put

Mohamed Abu Trika, the star of Egypt Ahly Football club has decided to turn down offers to play in Europe and stay in Egypt:

CAIRO: In the wake of a board meeting on Monday, the Reds officially reaffirmed that they are not ready to sell or loan 30-year-old Mohamed Abou-Trika at any price.

The Ahly playmaker is unlikely to leave the African champions, despite “offers from English and Arab clubs,” the club  said, especially that the player himself was loath to leave.

“The football committee and the board have come to a decision that Ahly are not ready to sell Abou-Trika,” a statement on Ahly’s official site read.

“We insist on keeping our star despite huge offers from Arab and English clubs.

“The board was eager to meet with the player, appreciating his vital role at the club and his contribution to several trophies in recent years.

Its hard to underestimate how popular Abou-Trika is in Egypt.  He is probably one of the 2-3 most loved and respected Egyptians, especially at the Shabi (working class/ popular) level (I’d put him in the same class as Gamal Abdel Nasser, Tito, Adel Imam and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi).  The most obvious reason for his popularity is his skills in football; he is the best player in a football crazy nation.  But its much more than that.  Abou-Trika comes from a humble socio-economic background, and unlike other Egyptian footballers, carries himself with unusual modesty.  Also, and very importantly, he is seen as religously devout.  For all of these reasons, it is very difficult to find an Egyptian, even a supporter of a rival club, who doesn’t speak of Abou Trika with the utmost respect. 

As for his decision to pass up the chance to play at a higher level for more money in Europe, I think its a good career move.  First, he is 30, which is approaching the end of the road for a soccer player.  Second, its probably not worth putting his reputation on the line at this stage in his career.  The talent level in the Premiere League is much higher, and theres always a chance that such a move wouldn’t work out.  It would be rather humbling if his stint in Europe was spent on the bench. 

I see this as a Jordanesque retire on top type move (the 93 and 98 retirements not the 02 version).