Ahmed Hossam Mido, Cairo’s king
A look back at the amazing journey of Cairo’s golden boy, Ahmed Hossam Mido, his glories and falls from grace.
Big news: at age 34, Mido’s back on the fields! Well, at least on the bench, since he recently took the lead of the Wadi Degla, one of the greatest Egyptian club for his academy. But for how long? The question might be on everyone’s lips, but the answer is an elusive one. With three defeats in four games, the Cairene club boasts only a modest 12th place in the championship. His manager, under heavy fire from critics, keeps a cool head: “I don’t care much for the results we’ll get until the January break. What matters is that players adapt to my game plan, and to trust the younger ones.”* Ahmed Hossam Mido isn’t the type to beat around the bush, despite a journey as a trainer most aptly described as chaotic. His last experiment to date, his club in Zamalek, didn’t last long: seven games played until a dismissal last February. “But my first stop in Zamalek, in 2014, was crowned with success, Mido argues. I managed to bring in a new generation and to build a new team which today collects trophies and titles. We managed to win the Egyptian cup through troubled times.”
‘I want my son to be like Mido’
Regularity and reliability were never Mido’s strong suits. Neither was boredom, for that matter. And the public loves him for it: as young as 16, he shines in the Egyptian championship. Back then, supporters are quick to compare him to Maradona, while to the press he’s the Arab World’s David Beckham - both for his smoothed back hair and his dark stare. “He changed the mentalities of families here, said Mahmoud Gouhary, one of his first coaches back in 2005. Before him, education came before football. Today, you can hear parents saying ‘I want my kid to be like Mido.’”* His skills and feats unlock the gates of Europe. Transferred to Belgium, at the KAA La Gantoise, he finishes with the Ebony Shoe award (11 goals in 23 games) in his first and only season. The boy wonder hasn’t reached his majority yet, but stands over a kneeling old continent – including Miss Belgium – and signs for Ajax Amsterdam.
In the Netherlands, he’s part with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andy van der Meyde of a strikingly offensive trident. As early as his first season, Mido delivers on the double cup-championship, and his delivery has jaws dropping everywhere. With 10 goals through the last 9 season games, he becomes the ‘King of Cairo’ and leaves Ibra on the sidelines. His second season, marred by rumours, clashes with his coach and lavish – if not outright boozy – evenings will prove a tougher sell. First loaned to the Celta Vigo, in Spain, he joins the Olympic Marseille (OM) in July 2003 for 12 million euros. “Our star recruit, with plenty of talent, generosity offensive effort, a serious physical power and striking”, comments his former teammate Sylvain N’Diaye. The alliance seems perfect. “There was a real effervescence, confirms Christophe Champy, then editor-in-chief at OMtv. Everybody was curious to see this jet-setting Egyptian player, with his flawless english. A true international playboy, really.”
… to Drogba
That year, nevertheless, Didier Drogba, another OM recruit, sets fire to the Velodrome and relegates Mido to the rank of understudy, despite some high quality games. After 9 goals scored over 33 games, the Egyptian moves to Roma, where he doesn’t make the same impression. Would follow Tottenham, Middlesbrough, Wigan, West Ham. Emboldened by his 51 selections, he’ll nevertheless win the 2006 ACN, but wouldn’t enjoy the final because of a clash with his coach Hassan Shehata, guilty of replacing him too early in the semi. “Had I stayed on the field, I would have scored. I’m sorry for the fans, but I will never apologise to Shehata”* he stated after the incident, before retracting honourably. Back to Ajax, then to Zamalek, before one last missed call at Barnsley (English second division), he puts an end, at barely 30, to his career. Having climbed too high, to fast, likely too enamoured with success, women, and life itself, the Pharaoh would have never fully acted on his tremendous potential as a player.
* Mahmoud Gouhary’s quotes coming from Vice Sports, those from Mido in Ahramonline.