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Thursday, 25 February 2021

British ambassador in Cairo showboats the Ramadan Sobhi way

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 13 Jul 2016
British ambassador and Ramadan Sobhi
British ambassador in Cairo John Casson stands on the ball beside Egypt's highly-rated footballer Ramadan Sobhi (the embassy's official Facebook page)
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British ambassador in Cairo John Casson displayed his trademark humour upon receiving Egypt's highly-rated footballer Ramadan Sobhi at the embassy on Wednesday, standing on the ball the same way the youngster did twice as he closes in on a move to Stoke City.

The 19-year-old, who plays for Cairo giants Ahly, applied for a United Kingdom visa to complete a highly-anticipated move to Premier League side Stoke after putting in a string of impressive displays with his club and the Egyptian national team in the past year.

Sobhi drew admiration and ridicule from rival fans when he famously stood on the ball in the latter stages of Ahly's 2-0 Cairo derby victory over bitter rivals Zamalek in July 2015, prompting one of his opponents to lash out at him and earn a straight red card.

He repeated the action during last summer's Super Cup against Zamalek in the United Arab Emirates, again leading to a heated argument on the pitch, as his side claimed an exciting 3-2 victory.

Casson and some of the embassy staff were photographed standing on the ball in front of a beaming Sobhi, who said his ambitions are sky-high as he embarks on a European adventure.

The talented winger, who can also operate as a playmaker, said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of AS Roma's Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny.

Stoke beat off competition from Italian side Udinese to lure Sobhi, who came through the youth ranks of Ahly and has quickly become a fan darling.

He has scored five league goals and created eight others as Ahly claimed their ninth league title in 10 seasons, tormenting defenders with his neat footwork and impressive ability to skip past challengers in one-on-one situations.

Sobhi was also instrumental in Egypt's qualification for next year's African Cup of Nations finals for the first time since 2010.

He created a stoppage-time goal for Mohamed Salah when Egypt salvaged a 1-1 draw at Nigeria in March before scoring the solitary goal which earned the Pharaohs a precious 1-0 home win over the Super Eagles few days later, effectively giving them a ticket to the Gabon finals.

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