Of all footballers, a striker will tend to occupy the ground at the extreme ends of the emotional scale. If he scores, he's a hero. If he doesn't, he's a scapegoat. Mohamed Zidan can tell you a tale or two about all of that. Borussia Dortmund’s Egyptian international has already had more than his fair share of career ups and downs.
The 27-year-old netted seven Bundesliga goals in 29 appearances last term, although that modest stat looks a shade better when you know he only completed the full 90 minute once. Not a bad strike rate for a super-sub. "I’m aware of Zidan’s ability, and not just from hearsay. I've seen him live. But he's nowhere near where he could be," Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp declared last summer, after this gem of an attacker quit the north of Germany to rejoin his former mentor.
Klopp is a foster father of sorts to Zidan, who is rated as gifted but difficult in some quarters. Sure enough, the north African has often followed the popular coach on his travels. The striker twice failed to make the breakthrough with Werder Bremen, and twice recaptured his best form under Klopp at Mainz. After another disappointing spell in the north, this time with Hamburg, he swapped places with Mladen Petric and switched to Dortmund, where Klopp had just inherited the reins from Thomas Doll.
Crucial goals for Egypt
Zidan has tended to reserve the best of his prodigious potential for his country. He contributed two goals and the assist for the winner in the final against Cameroon as Egypt successfully defended the CAF African Cup of Nations in Ghana last year. And at the recent FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 in South Africa, he struck twice against eventual winners Brazil in a game the South Americans edged 4-3.
"I’m definitely looking to improve my game and prove I'm good enough. I'm always trying to make a name for myself. Having a similar name to him is just fantastic, and I hope I can be as good as him one day," Zidan said recently in response to an almost inevitable comparison with former France superstar Zinedine Zidane – the pronunciation is the same in both cases.
However, the Egyptian striker, who is sometimes regarded as too sensitive and artistic for his own good, is determined to lay down his credentials at Borussia Dortmund once and for all: "I had a good season because I played a lot. I still have three years on my contract, and I hope I can make a name for myself at club level." Only then will Zidan really step up his efforts to emulate the great Zidane.
Have Your Say
Zidan is unquestionably possessed of great ability. The striker has demonstrated his quality time and again, but the Egyptian gem's inconsistency is also a fact. The contrast between his form for club and country could hardly have been greater, especially during spells with Bremen and Hamburg.
That's why we want you to Have Your Say here at FIFA.com. What do you think of Mohamed Zidan? Could he be the man to fire Egypt to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finals – and if so, will he hit the headlines once there? Is he the kind of player destined for greatness as he finally matures?
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