Ahmed Elmohamady, a marauding right-winger with an ability to deliver pin-point crosses while making darting runs towards the byline, is enjoying life at Hull City after getting a second wind alongside the elite of the English Premier League.
The Egyptian international has been one of Hull’s most consistent performers this term, having joined the club on a permanent basis last summer after impressing manager Steve Bruce during a one-year loan spell last season.
Elmohamady lost his Premier League status when he opted to leave Sunderland, where he fell out of favour with Northern Irish coach Martin O’Neill, to join Hull in the summer of 2012, but he quickly clawed his way back to the top flight with the Tigers, putting in some fine displays to help Hull earn promotion.
He's gone from strength to strength throughout the first half of this season after penning a three-year deal with the club, who are owned by Egyptian-born businessman Assem Allam.
The 26-year-old told FIFA.com in an interview that he is solely focused on maintaining his good run with Hull before considering any new challenge. “It’s my first year after I joined Hull permanently, and I’m determined to fully concentrate on my job here before thinking about anything else. I’m very happy to play at Hull under Steve [Bruce], who is a great coach with vast experience,” Elmohamady said of the 52-year-old manager, who brought him to Sunderland in 2010.
Proving his professionalism
Bruce’s decision to sign Elmohamady three years ago was a bold move for a coach who had some unpleasant memories with fellow Egyptian footballers. He opted to call off an imminent deal with Hossam Ghaly back in 2007 when he was in charge of Birmingham City, criticising the attitude of the central midfielder and famously saying “I didn't want him anywhere near my team.”
A few years later, Egypt striker Amr Zaki initially excelled under Bruce’s guidance at Wigan Athletic but later fell down the pecking order due to some off-field antics that eventually cut short his stint in England.
It has been a different story with Elmohamady, who has earned glowing praise from Bruce for his professionalism. “That was the first thing Bruce told me when I first joined Sunderland: Commitment is the most important thing," Elmohamady said. "He always stresses on that point, and I’m fully aware of that.
The best thing for me is to play in an advanced position because it gives me more freedom to carry out my attacking duties.
“I’m committed in every aspect. I always show up on time for training, and I always try to do my best. This has been the case with him at Sunderland and Hull alike. How I perform on the pitch is also a matter of great importance, of course.”
Elmohamady has started all of Hull’s Premier League games so far, scoring two goals and creating another. He prefers to play in an advanced position on the right wing where he can whip in his crosses and use his speed to unsettle opposing backlines.
The best thing for me is to play in an advanced position because it gives me more freedom to carry out my attacking duties. But when the coach asks me to play in a certain position, I have to accept that.
“We were playing last year with a 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 formation, where I used to play as a right wing-back," Elmohamady explained. "This strategy was pretty much similar to the way we used to play with the Egyptian national team under Hassan Shehata, and I’m very familiar with that position.
“It’s somewhat different this year. Sometimes we play with four defenders at the back, and sometimes we play with three. When we are playing with four, sometimes I play as a full-back and sometimes I play as a right-sided midfielder.
"The best thing for me is to play in an advanced position because it gives me more freedom to carry out my attacking duties. But when the coach asks me to play in a certain position, I have to accept that.”
Elmohamady and his Egypt teammates were distraught after the Pharaohs were hammered by Ghana 7-3 on aggregate in the play-offs at the final hurdle for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, extending their absence from the football’s most prestigious tournament to 24 years.
The former ENPPI man was particularly disappointed after being left out of Egypt’s squad for the second leg at home to Ghana, which saw the seven-time African champions claim a 2-1 consolation victory. “We had a very good run in the qualifiers, but just one game caused all that. It was an off-day. I respect the view of the coach [Bob Bradley] to leave me out of the second leg, but I fully disagreed with him,” Elmohamady commented.
“He excluded the only player who plays every week in a very strong competition like the Premier League...but anyway, this is past now. We are looking forward to a new spell under coach Shawky Gharib, whom I know very well. Gharib is an experienced coach who is very familiar with the current crop of players in the national team set-up. I believe appointing him as a new boss was a very good choice.”