Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

It’s time to go

Whether commenting on top European matches or mid-table Egyptian league games, Hamada Emam is a legend in the studio, but is his football passion taking him down? Ahmed Hamdi reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

His voice has been linked to top class matches. Who can forget the 2000 Champions League final, Real Madrid vs Valencia? Or his weekly segment on the top European leagues that forever linked him to European football in the minds of Egyptian football fans? Who can forget the times his voice brought life to Cairo derbies between Ahli and Zamalek? Hamada Emam was considered for decades one of Egypt’s top football commentators, but it seems like he is going through a tough period in his career, covering only a handful of Egyptian league mid-table matches on Al Hayat channel.

Emam, who will turn 77 on 28 November, is currently conducting the play-by-play on matches like Aswan vs Gaish and Enppi vs Somoha, a far cry from the heady days.

Emam added colour to big matches but lately it seems like time has passed him by as younger commentators have taken the lead in the profession. Unlike other veteran commentators like Mimi Al-Sherbini, the Zamalek legend refuses to leave the booth, accepting the somehow downgrading of match importance that he commentates on, making perhaps more appearances but less impact.

Emam’s undying football passion is not a surprise, however, looking back at his career. The former Zamalek striker was born in Cairo in 1948 to Zamalek’s goalkeeper at that time Yehia Emam. He started his relationship with the ball in Al-Qasr Al-Eini Street playing with his neighbours.

He joined the white team’s under-16 squad in 1957, at a young age, by orders of the team’s then coach Ali Sharaf. Emam then joined the military academy but he never stopped playing football.

Emam was called “The Fox” by famed critic Naguib Al-Mestikawi, giving amazing performances and leading his team to league victory in the 1964-1965 season, and scoring many goals in his career as a player.

The striker’s most famous match came against then top of the table English side West Ham United when he scored a hat-trick out of five goals, leading Zamalek to victory over the European Cup Winners Cup champions which had 1966 World Cup standouts Bobby Moore and Geoffrey Hurst.

Emam was known during his career for his manners. He still holds the record that no one has ever come close to — no cards, yellow or red — throughout his career. Emam might be the real definition of fair play which FIFA promotes.

In 1974, Emam decided to leave the green pitch for the last time in a huge retirement match which included top Egyptian footballers, including Ahli’s legend Saleh Selim.

Emam’s post-retirement career took him to vice-president of the Egyptian Football Association, but his passion for commentating was much more, as he went on to commentate on the Egyptian league matches, before having his own segment in the show Al Sahra Al Reyadya in the 1990s and early 2000s, in which he covered the highlights of the top European leagues matches.

Emam became one of the top commentators in Egypt and the Arab world, announcing top matches, one the unforgettable final of the 2000 European Champions League in which Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 to secure their eighth European cup.

Emam, also the father of one of the best players in Egypt’s history Hazem Emam, went on to commentate on the English Premier League on the ShowTime channels before the league was sold first to Abu Dhabi, then to Bein Sports.

Emam and his son Hazem are now part of Al Hayat team. Hazem has his own program Al Malaeb Al Youm.

Emam made occasional appearances after that on several channels, but always had his own television programme on Nile Sport called The Week’s Goals with The Fox, aka Ahdaf Al Osboa Ma Al Taalab.

Although the TV programme is still running, Emam does not commentate on Egyptian television anymore; he is now part of Al Hayat commentating team, covering mid-table matches in the Egyptian league. Though it might sadden some who had seen him in his peak as a commentator, see him now commenting on such low-profile matches, it might add some joy to their hearts hearing his voice that is still linked to their childhood.

The question remains whether it was right for the famous commentator to accept such a downgrading or should he had said goodbye to the microphone forever.

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