Al-Ahram Weekly Online   29 May - 4 June 2008
Issue No. 899
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Final destination

After a long football journey, Egypt football international Ahmed Hassan has penned a three-year contract with Ahli, Ahmed Morsy reports

Click to view caption
El-Badri, Hassan and El-Qaeyi at the press conference

Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan has officially announced that he signed a three-year contract with Ahli after more than 10 years of professional play in Turkey and Belgium.

At a press conference held in Ahli club on Saturday, the deal was announced by Ahli marketing director Adli El-Qaeyi and Ahli assistant coach Hossam El-Badri.

The former Anderlecht ace, who won his record third Nations Cup title earlier this year after being part of the 1998 and 2006 Egyptian winning squads, can choose whatever jersey number he wants, even if it is 17 which is currently being worn by midfielder Anis Bojelban, but Bojelban has welcomed relinquishing it.

"I am looking to the future challenges with Ahli, which will begin with traditional arch- rival Zamalek in the opening match of the group phase in the Africa Champions League," Hassan said in the press conference.

"I learnt a lot from my stay in Europe and from the older players I played with at the beginning of my career on the Egyptian team," Hassan said, adding that he hopes to impart this experience to Ahli players whom he all considered to be his brothers and was connected to them with good relations. Hassan said he was happy to join the five-time African champions and that he decided to choose Ahli to feel stable as he has two children and that he wanted to raise them in Egypt in order to adapt to their culture.

"I am not worried about the transition from the disciplined atmosphere in Europe to the Egyptian league and especially to Ahli club since I know that the regime in Ahli is not much different from Europe because it is the best club in application of the system of professionalism in Egypt. I'm not a foreigner because I went to Europe after being a player in the Egyptian league and I know all its circumstances," Hassan said.

Regarding his role in Anderlecht, Hassan said, "My main role was a midfielder and sometimes as a striker, and in addition I played right back with the Egyptian team before." Hassan was the top scorer in Anderlecht with nine goals last season. "Hence, I think things will not be that difficult in Ahli as I can play in more than one position."

Neither Ahli nor Hassan disclosed the financial details of the deal, but El-Qaeyi denied press reports of LE6 million a season.

"There is no player in Ahli who receives LE6 million in three seasons let alone a single season," El-Qaeyi stated.

"We hope that in future we can assess the players financially, as the European clubs do because Ahli is not inferior."

Hassan played in Aswan and Ismaili before moving to Turkey in 1998, following Egypt's African Cup of Nations victory in Burkina Faso. Overall, he played in six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments for Egypt.

The 32-year-old left local club Ismaili for Turkey where he played for Kocaelispor, Denizlispor, Genclerbirligi and Besiktas. After that, the flexible midfielder was acquired by Anderlecht in 2006 after his second African championship with Egypt on home soil.

During a two-year spell in Belgium, Hassan was inspirational, scoring 24 goals to help his team win the league and the Super Cup titles last season and the Belgian Cup this season. The achievements have had him described as the most successful Egyptian European-based player.

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