FT's 10 Best Moments of 2018: #1 The global reign of the Egyptian King

He truly became the Egyptian King; graffiti of his face all across the North African country, a ‘brawl’ over image rights for his face, his shooting boots immortalized at a museum in Britain, spoiled ballot papers in Egypt’s presidential election with many voting “Mo Salah” and many other intriguing events which could take forever to lay down.
— Dennis Takaendesa, FirstTouch Africa

At FirstTouch, we have a saying that goes like, “a year is never over until we close it.” In the spirit of that ideal, we took our time to look back at the ten most defining moments of 2018, as far as African football is concerned. Could you guess what they are? Here is number 1.

The world runs at a pace so fast that some truly extraordinary occurrences seem like a lifetime and then a moment at the same time. It’s only been a year since the name Mohamed Salah got global acclamation but seems like forever. The 26 year-old Egyptian couldn’t stop making the headlines. After returning to the Premier League in the summer of 2017, Mo Salah used the early half of 2018 to silence all doubters and remarkably regained Africa’s place among the world’s best footballers. With odds almost 1000/1 to achieve everything he did, he did it anyway.

Egypt fans hold a poster of Mohamed Salah prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Egypt and Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 15, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.  (June 14, 2018 - Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe)

Egypt fans hold a poster of Mohamed Salah prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Egypt and Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 15, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

(June 14, 2018 - Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe)

Salah sent tongues wagging as he ran down the Liverpool wing all the way to a Players’ Player of the Season, the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Season, and a Premier League’s Golden Boot award with a record 32 goals in 36 league starts. As if that was not enough, he added a couple more goals in the UEFA Champions League eventually leading the Merseyside club to a UCL final in as many years. Even the BBC African Player Of The Year and the CAF African Player of The Year awards had the Egyptian’s name inscribed on them. Did I mention, the FIFA Puskas Award of the Best goal scored in 2018 or being the first runners up to the FIFA Best World’s Player Of The Year eventually won by Croatia’s Luka Modric ahead of the likes of Messi or Ronaldo. It was quite delightful to see an African’s name on the FIFA Best Awards, which had been robbed of a mention since the days of Liberian President, George Weah. Perhaps the most priceless of Mo Salah’s achievements to the Egyptians, was a historic 2018 FIFA World Cup appearance in as many years.

He truly reached Egyptian King status; graffiti of his face all across the North African country, a ‘brawl’ over image rights for his face, his shooting boots immortalized at a museum in Britain, spoiled ballot papers in Egypt’s presidential election with many voting “Mo Salah” amongst other intriguing events in 2018.

Lest we forget, 2018 was truly a year to honor and celebrate one Mohamed who goes by the last name, Salah.