El Badry: Salah is the epitome of dreams and hard work
In part two of an exclusive interview, we hear from Egypt coach Hossam El Badry
He explains the value of Europe-based players and making full use of Mo Salah
El Badry discusses his career, role models, time at Al Ahly and more
In part two of FIFA.com’s interview with Hossam El Badry, the Egypt coach talks about the experiences that shaped him, and the people who influenced his career and motivated him to take up coaching. Moreover, he touches on his illustrious journey at Al Ahly, his second home, where he spent more than 40 years playing, coaching and managing.
El Badry also explains the importance of the Europe-based players, how he communicates with them, and how proud he is of Mo Salah, who he says is a role model for young people in Egypt and Africa. He also reveals how he hopes to make the best use of the Liverpool star.
Click here for part one of our interview with Hossam El Badry
FIFA.com: You quit playing at the age of 25, not an easy age for a former player thinking of a career in coaching. Who encouraged you to get involved in this field after your retirement?
Hossam El Badry: True, I got a cruciate ligament injury that forced me to hang up my boots. In the mid-80s, this kind of injury was a career-ending one. Having gained solid experience playing for Al Ahly and the Egyptian national team, I had many ambitions. Unfortunately, everything came to a sudden end, but I love a challenge and don’t give up easily. I then decided to go to coaching.
Egyptian football has had many great coaches but, for me, two stood out and made me love coaching. They are the late Mahmoud El Gohary and Fouad Shaban, who was assistant for great Hungarian coach Nandor Hidegkuti. Both were my coaches at Al Ahly when I was promoted to the senior team. I remember I once had a conversation with Shaban about playing style and tactics, and he told me that I’d be a good coach when I quit playing. It never occurred to me that my playing career would end that prematurely and that I would go into coaching immediately after.
Every coach adopts a certain philosophy in order to achieve success; what is yours?
I believe that a coach’s personality contributes a lot to his success. It’s not only about winning trophies but earning the support of players and football officials. Even fans can get a grasp of the coach’s personality. Football has developed and made huge strides on the technical, physical, psychological, and administrative side. So much so that it’s become a science in itself.
Coaching is a talent which practitioners must hone by acquiring new knowledge. That’s where the role of innovation and looking for new playing styles comes in. Successful coaches put in place a strategy and work to make it succeed by dealing with those around them in psychological and technical terms. So it’s very important for the coach to be efficient and charismatic.
Several of your team’s key players are based in Europe. How important is that?
It’s great to have a group of Egyptian players competing in the top European leagues. This certainly strengthens our squad. It’s essential to see those stars play and continue to develop in a way that gives them new experiences. This in turn is reflected in their performance with the national team. I hope to see more players go abroad to experience true professionalism. Training and consistent participation in games help players develop personally, technically and mentally.
Let’s talk about Mohamed Salah. How do you plan to make best use of him and enable him to perform like he does with Liverpool?
What Salah has achieved so far makes us so proud of him. He’s reached the highest level and has become an icon for Egyptians. It is no exaggeration to say he’s considered a role model in the Arab World and Africa. He’s become the epitome of dreams, hard work and perseverance, and young people want to follow his path. I know very well that he likes challenges and that the national team is of the utmost importance to him.
Salah has reached the highest level of professionalism and understands his rights and responsibilities. He’s the cornerstone of the national team and carries the hopes of all Egyptians. However, we shouldn’t overburden him. Football is a team sport that requires collective work. I like to make everyone’s responsibilities clear on the pitch. Every player has offensive and defensive duties and the success of one player influences the success of his team-mates. We all have to stand united for the national team.
What about other European-based players?
We follow all the players on a weekly basis and communicate with them to stay abreast of what’s going on. We try to support and motivate all the players. We have Ahmed Hegazy playing currently for West Bromwich Albion, where he’s been doing a great job since his return from injury. He has a professional mentality with a bright future ahead of him, and he’s an important player for our squad. We also have Trezeguet [at Aston Villa], who has improved a lot in the English Premier League compared to where he was in Turkey. He still has a long way to go, but he certainly has what it takes to play at an even higher level.
We’re also keeping an eye on Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohamed Elneny and Ahmed Hassan (a.k.a Kouka). All of them are important for us and we want the best from all of them to help us in the upcoming games. I speak with Kouka and always encourage him to work hard. He’s a very good striker and we have a shortage in this position. I want all the strikers to work hard in order to play for the national team. As I’ve said earlier, the door is open to any player who can prove himself worthy of wearing the Egypt shirt.
We have to ask you about your career at Al Ahly. How would you describe this long relationship?
It’s been a lifetime journey indeed. I spent more than 40 years at this great club and always remember the happy moments I experienced there. At Al Ahly, I learned patience and perseverance in addition to the importance of hard work. I also learned the meaning of wisdom and how to shoulder your responsibilities in all situations. At Al Ahly, it’s all about trophies and success; it’s not about reaching the top, but staying there. I played for the club as a young player and then started coaching after I’d retired. My goal has always been to give back to this great club.
For many years, I aspired to move up the ranks there and help it win championships. I left nothing to chance and worked hard to be part of the club’s glorious history. Thanks to God, I was part of the best generation that dominated the football scene in Egypt and Africa. What makes me even prouder is that I went on to contribute to these great achievements as their head coach. I believe I’m very lucky to belong to that club and to be one part of what made its great fans happy. In a nutshell, Al Ahly made my name and I owe everything to the club.
You mentioned that you served in various coaching roles at different levels at Al Ahly. Do you think this helped you learn the ins and outs of competitions and broaden your experience, ultimately making you better qualified to assume the national team job?
It’s not easy to be shortlisted for the national team job. This role requires a lot of experience. I worked at Al Ahly for many years during which time I had to deal with lots of pressure and face many different styles and schools of African football. In addition to the successes I’ve had, I’ve learned a lot from that journey. Now, I want to prove that Egypt coaches are well qualified to hold the top job here and that they’re on a par with foreign coaches.