Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Season of the signings

Hegazi and Rabiaa sign and re-sign for Ahly respectively while Shikabala might or might not put pen to paper for Zamalek, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

After less than four injury-stricken years in Italy, Ahmed Hegazi left Fiorentina and returned to Egypt to sign a five-year contract with powerhouse Ahly for an undisclosed fee. Hegazi endured two long-term knee injuries at Fiorentina that hindered his progress at the club after a bright start at the beginning of 2012.

Hegazi was signed as a 20-year-old international defender who was supposed to take Serie A by storm, but unfortunately by the time he settled in Florence in December 2012 he suffered a severe knee injury, just two weeks after he scored his first official goal for the club in a cup game against Juve Stabia.

Much to the dismay of the young Egyptian star, Hegazi never really found his way back at Fiorentina after the injury and eventually he was loaned out to Perugia last season where he made 10 appearances for the Serie B club. Hegazi shone at Perugia and was in the starting line-up week in, week out but returned to Fiorentina after the end of the loan deal to find himself on the bench once again. That’s when he really started to think about leaving Italy altogether, especially after Ahly expressed an interest in signing him.

Hegazi’s decision was made even easier after Fiorentina announced that the Egyptian defender, alongside a few of his teammates, could be released next January. On 1 September, Hegazi and Ahly announced they reached a deal with the Italian club that will see the 24-year-old join the Egyptian giants immediately, much to the delight of Ahly fans.

Hegazi was not the only star returning from Europe to join Ahly. The club also announced they managed to re-sign Egyptian sensation Rami Rabiaa from Sporting Lisbon after he failed to settle in Portugal during his one year with the Portuguese heavyweights. Rabiaa left Egypt last year as one of the best young talents in the country and was tipped by Egyptian pundits to have a long successful career in Europe but unfortunately for him and for Egyptian fans he was never given the chance to prove what he can do on the pitch, eventually leading to a return to Ahly.

Another Egyptian mega star in the form of Shikabala left Sporting Lisbon as well to return to his beloved club Zamalek this month after an 18-month extremely disappointing season at the Portuguese club. Shika, as they call him in Egypt, left Zamalek in January 2014 aiming to create history for himself and for Egypt in Europe but for various reasons this never transpired.

First, the player’s attitude in Portugal was far from ideal from the very first day as he never really trained well or showed the needed desire or hunger to break into the starting eleven, according to his Portuguese representative Paulo Faria. More than once, Faria made it clear to Shika that his attitude and behaviour at Sporting will eventually see the club get rid of him since he was not adding any value to the club that paid $700,000 to sign him.

Shika’s time at Sporting was up when he decided in September 2014 to return to Egypt and not return back to the club after the international break. His reason at that time was that he did not feel appreciated or wanted at the club so there was no reason for him to go back, which created plenty of problems between him and the club.

After nearly a year of clashes between the player and Sporting, Zamalek and their president Mortada Mansour finally intervened to solve the problem. They announced they were ready to re-sign their star from Sporting Lisbon to a five-year contract that sees him loaned to Egyptian coastal club Ismaili for the first six months because there was no place on Zamalek’s squad at the moment.

However, the deal is in the balance now after Shikabala became once again the talk of the town but for the wrong reasons. There was supposed to be a press conference last week at Mansour’s home to officially announce the signing of Shikabala from Sporting Lisbon, only to be cancelled after the player amazingly did not show up. For the first time in the history of Zamalek, a player went AWOL from his official unveiling.

As a result, Mansour cancelled the signing of Shikabala. The board unanimously agreed with the decision, according to the club’s spokesman Ahmed Mortada Mansour, Mansour’s son.

 “We wanted to send the message that we stand by Zamalek’s players. Now we are sending another one: whoever does not respect the club and its board will not be welcome,” added Ahmed Mortada who wished Shikabala good luck, wherever he goes.

Shikabala responded to the incident by apologising to Mortada Mansour, Zamalek, Ismaili and Zamalek coach Mido, insisting that he did not know that his attendance was a must. He claimed he thought that the press conference was meant just to announce his signing for Zamalek to a five-year contract that will see him loaned out to Ismaili first. He said he had no idea that the contracts were to be signed during the press conference.

After Shika’s apology, Mortada Mansour said he would leave the decision to the board without interfering. He said the board members would meet this week to decide whether to sign Shika but that neither he nor his son Ahmed would attend the meeting, leaving the final say strictly to the board members. A final decision will made later this week.

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