Zamalek and Egypt midfielder Mahmoud Abdel Razek ‘Shikabala’ has decided to quit international football, the club’s football director Ibrahim Hassan announced.
Shikabala’s decision has been attributed to the racist insults regularly directed at him by Ahly supporters.
The player took the decision after yesterday's Cairo derby where again he was the target of violent racist insults, Hassan told Egyptian media in the early hours of Friday.
“I tried to convince Shikabala to change his mind but he stood firm on his decision to retire from professional football,” the twin brother of head coach Hossam Hassan said in a television interview.
“Ahly supporters constitute a large part of the Egyptian national team’s support. Shikabala has to endure these unacceptable insults even while playing for his country, forcing him to quit international football.”
Shikabala was consistently accused of failing to live up to his potential due to a poor temperament which has landed him in hot water on several occasions during the past few years.
He has been in sparkling form this season, however, notching up nine goals and creating several more to help Zamalek open up a six-point lead over Ahly at the top of the table.
He was subdued in the goalless Cairo derby though, failing to make a notable impact until he was substituted in the second half.
Shikabala was jeered by Ahly fans while on his way to the dugout and he responded by pointing his boots towards them, a gesture which is considered a grave insult in the Arab world.
Zamalek yesterday filed a complaint with the Egyptian FA against what they perceived ‘the racist taunts of Ahly supporters’.
Shikabala’s relationship with Egypt coach Hassan Shehata is already frosty.
Shehata accused him of feigning injury to skip Egypt’s game at home to Sierra Leone in the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.
The 24-year-old was further embroiled in controversy when he pulled out of the Pharaohs’ squad for a friendly game against Australia in November, citing a back injury.
Although he is considered one of Egypt’s finest performers, Shikabala never really made his mark on the international stage.
He missed out on Egypt’s 2006 and 2008 African Cup of Nations winning squads and made one appearance in the 2010 triumph in Angola.
“I hope that Egypt’s technical staff can intervene and contain the situation (of Shikabala’s retirement). He is the future of the national team,” Ibrahim Hassan added.