A namesake of the more illustrious Egyptian the defender aspires to be on the same level as the Liverpool forward some day.
Mohamed Salah might be a name which is known around the world by now, but for Gokulam Kerala’s Salah, the journey to the top of Indian football has just started. The Egyptian magician is experiencing the absolute peak of his career right now, while his Indian counterpart is on the road to reaching new heights with his club. Although yet to reach his career’s peak, Salah dreams of becoming a breakout star like his namesake and maybe one day attaining similar the reputation of being loved by the Indian fans.
However, for Gokulam Kerala’s left-wing-back, the road to success is still a very long one, but he is working hard to attain his ambitious dreams in the near future. Khel Now had a candid chat with the defender about all things football and his burgeoning career.
The Gokulam Kerala defender is yet to reach his career’s pinnacle
Salah seems to be very pleased with his time at Gokulam so far and speaking on it he said, “It has been a fantastic experience playing for the club. Before Gokulam, I was at Delhi United, but it was at this new club that I learnt a lot about how to improve my game,” he started off before continuing, “I started playing as a left midfielder, but then coach Bino (George) put me as a left wing-back, where I started to thrive. I feel it’s a very good experience for my career playing under Bino Sir and at a club like Gokulam Kerala.”
Salah is confident of their chances of challenging at the very top next season and stated, “Yes I’m sure that we’ll be able to challenge for the I-League championship next season.”
Salah played in the I-League for the first time in his career with Gokulam and speaking on the competitiveness of the league he said, “The I-League’s competitive nature was pretty good. It was a pretty surreal experience playing in this and I learned a lot from it as well.”
Bino George, the then head coach of Gokulam Kerala was the one to give Salah his big break last season and the wing-back had some kind words for his former coach. He said, “Bino George is a really wonderful man. He had a lot of ideas and wasn’t afraid of sharing them with us. Now, we’ll be playing under a new coach, but Bino has really helped my career blossom.”
Salah was brought into the I-League by former Gokulam head coach Bino George
Gokulam now has a new head coach in Fernando Andres Valera and talking about his new coach Salah explained, “I think there’s a little language barrier with coach Valera so far, but that is okay, as he’s making us learn new things. He’s making us practice really well and I’m very happy with him so far.”
He continued, “I feel Indian football will benefit if more outside (sic) coaches like him come to coach in the I-League and help the Indian players develop better.”
Much before he was playing for Gokulam, Salah started his career at Sports Academy Tirur in Kerala and has fond memories playing at the club. He explained, “I’ve played in Kerala for the last eight years. At Sports Academy, they taught me about patience and how to work hard to achieve your goals.”
While speaking about what inspired him to take up football professionally Salah revealed, “Many years ago, there was a game where many senior players and junior players were also playing. So, after watching them play, I wanted to be like them and decided to take up football as a professional career. Now, I hope I can keep on improving.”
Gokulam Kerala have voiced their liking for the Indian Super League (ISL) in the recent past and the young defender is not to have a different opinion. Salah feels that his team is ready for the league as he stated, “I feel like if Gokulam is selected in the ISL, within the next few years we will do our level best to compete at the top. I feel that we’re ready to play in the ISL. It’ll be superb if we get a chance to play in the ISL,” he later added.
Talking about his inspiration for becoming a footballer Salah revealed, “My biggest inspiration growing up was definitely my father. He supported me in all my decisions and told me to do anything in football. He gave me this life! My family is the biggest reason for all my success.”
Salah has seemingly made some good friends in his time at Gokulam Kerala and talking about his best buddy at the club he said, “The player I love playing with the most has to be Mohammed Irshad. He’s not only my teammate but my room-mate as well, as we share a flat together! We’ve played together for many years and have developed a special friendship.”
The Gokulam Kerala defender might be an up and coming star, but his name-sake in Egyptian Mohamed Salah is already tearing up the scene in European football. The Gokulam defender feels he can also do something similar in India, but figures he has a lot to learn.
“Yes, I think I can also mesmerize Indian football somewhere down the line. I want to become a regular in the Indian national team and want to go and play in Europe. I want to play for some European club. That’s my biggest ambition.”
“But, my dream is to play for the Indian national team. I’m practicing really hard for this and I hope to be able to don the colors of the national team as soon as possible,” he signed off with bounds of hope and positivity, which will be vital if Salah wishes to reach the peak of the mountain like his namesake.