Egypt's talented Ramadan Sobhi faces an uphill task back to the limelight
Contrary to popular assumption, Mohamed Salah is not the only Egyptian that knows how to run up and down the wing. The 22-year-old Ramadan Sobhi is a top prospect for the North African nation as well as current and future clubs, lucky enough to borrow his services. However, just like Salah, his growth journey has been by no means smooth and is still very much on his way to the very top. The 2018 African Player Of The Year, Salah, had to grow through Egypt’s El Mokawloon, FC Basel, Chelsea, Fiorentina and AS Roma, before he became a global phenomenon at Liverpool. It’s not clear how long it will take for Sobhi, that is if he manages to go the distance, what’s however clear is he will have to fight tooth and nail for it.
Sobhi started off his football career in the youth setup of Africa’s most successful club football, with a record 8 CAF Champions League titles, Cairo based Al Ahly. At only,17 years of age in the 2013/14 season, Sobhi made his professional debut in the Egyptian Premier League, helping the Red Devils win the league title in that campaign and the subsequent one. He instantly cemented his place in Mohamed Youssef’s starting XI and became a crowd favorite, showboating at will with the confidence of a seasoned professional. At the time, top European clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Roma, RB Leipzig, Sampdoria and Udinese stopped at nothing to learn about the Egyptian sensation who then debuted for his country at 17, the second youngest player to do so after the infamous Mido. At home, he became popular for sparking controversy after standing on the ball twice, against rivals Zamalek in a showboating move that enraged those of the opposite side. Such was the boldness of the youngster. Upon leaving Ah Ahly, Ramadan Sobhi had won 2 Egyptian Premier League titles, 2 Egyptian Super Cups and the CAF Confederation Cup in just two years, scoring 11 times in 55 appearances. It was at Stoke City that he would then first taste European football.
Bright false start
Mark Hughes handed the Egyptian teenager an English Premier League debut in the August of 2016 against Manchester City after securing his services for a fee of £5 million from Al Ahly. Even becoming the first teenager to start a league game for Stoke City in nine years. Sobhi’s talent became impossible not to notice as he gave opponents all sorts of problems running at them from either wings.Upon returning from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Sobhi became a regular in Mark Hughes’ side as he then appeared a total of 19 times for the club as they finished 13th in the 2016/17 Premier League season. The following season would then be a bitter pill for Sobhi and the Potters who were relegated to the EFL Championship. The Egyptian international had appeared a total 41 times for the club over 2 years and scored 2 goals, not a bad record for Premier League strugglers who became good at shipping in goals than they were scoring them. Fellow Premier League side, Huddersfield Town wouldn’t let Sobhi go the Championship with Stoke, and acquired him in June of 2018 for a fee believed to be £5.7 million.
Now, the Terriers spell has been quite not as expected for Sobhi. The 22-year-old has already managed a total of 4 appearances since joining the club in the summer, extremely painful for a growing player used to getting regular game time throughout his professional career. In December of 2018, Huddersfield actually made the decision to loan Sobhi to his former club, Ah Ahly, until June of 2019. The versatile attacker, dubbed to be the reincarnation of Egyptian legend, Mohamed Aboutrika, seems fallen from grace only that at 22 years of age, he has loads of time to turn it all around. It will take a whole lot more of his eagle like vision for goal, slick feet and pace to reach higher levels. More so now that his parent club, Huddersfield Town is in real danger of facing the chop that axed Stoke City from the Premier League, otherwise known as the axe that chucks teams away from relevance.
He definitely has the talent, and the right inspiration in Mohamed Salah to go all the way. The question is, will he?