Egypt's midfielder Mohamed Elneny spoke in an interview with Arsenal's official website about football's huge effect on Egyptians, stressing that Egypt's fans deserved the recent hard-fought achievement of reaching the upcoming World Cup after 27 years of absence.
"I am Mohamed Elneny and I'm going to tell you all about football in Egypt," the Arsenal midfielder said in the interview published Tuesday night.
"In Egypt, football affects so many people. We are told all the time that the relationship between the people and football affects our economy and overall mood. It affects every house, rich and poor.
"When the national team wins, everyone is happy and productive, but when we lose the opposite happens no one wants to work and the mood becomes not good," he added.
Egypt ended a 27-year World Cup drought after defeating Congo 2-1 earlier this month to book their ticket for next year's World Cup in Russia.
The Pharaohs, who held to a 1-1 draw against Ghana in the qualifiers' last round on Sunday, topped their Group E with 13 points, finishing ahead of Uganda, who had nine.
The 25-year old Elneny, who began his international career in 2011, was a key member of Egypt's qualifying squad.
"The generation before us won three African Cup of Nations in a row (2006,2008 and 2010), played in the Confederations Cup, and they achieved so many things. They did everything but they didn't qualify for the World Cup," the former Basel player explained.
"I think we learned from that and our manager Mr. Cuper looked into that too and managed to fix few things. This doesn't mean that previous generation was doing it wrongly.
"Now we did it and reached the World Cup. We worked hard, and the manager had a plan all the way in the qualifiers and finally we achieved the target.
"I don't know what was missing in previous years. I played with the previous generation before and I know how hard they worked.
"This generation reached the final of the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon [losing 2-1 to Cameroon in the final] and before that we made it to the Olympics after 20 year of absence.
"I am delighted to qualify and proud of all that we have achieved so far," he concluded.
Congo game dream
Seven-time African champions Egypt have only made two World Cup appearances, both in Italy, in 1934 and 1990.
"The night before the Congo game I was dreaming all night. I was dreaming about the referee's whistle and being in the World Cup. It was a dream to all Egyptians I think," Elneny said.
"When we were awarded a penalty, everyone was so happy as if we qualified already. It was 50/50 and everyone was celebrating already while we haven't scored it yet. They were in need for that joy.
"When we scored and won the game I knew we made it and that now we can celebrate.
"I felt something I have never experienced before. Pure happiness, as, after all the hard work, we made the dream come true. God granted us that achievement after all what we did," he concluded.
The draw for the group stage of the 2018 World Cup will take place on 1 December in Moscow.