Liverpool’s red-hot winger Mohamed Salah is relishing a return to Roma to face his old club in the UEFA Champions League semi-final and catch up with the Olimpico’s former great Francesco Totti.
The Egyptian international will be united with his ex-club after Friday’s draw at UEFA’s headquarters paired Liverpool with AS Roma in the last four of Europe’s blue-riband club competition.
Salah spent two fruitful seasons with Roma and was instrumental in helping them finish second in the Italian Serie A last season, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances before sealing a summer move to Liverpool, where he has quickly become a fan darling following a series of dazzling displays.
The 25-year-old netted eight goals in the Champions League to become Liverpool’s joint top scorer in the competition in a single season and lift them to their first semi-final since they reached the final in 2007.
"It would be nice to go back to Rome, it's my old club. I love the fans there and they love me too,” Salah told CNN in an interview ahead of the draw.
"I still talk to most of the players there. We were very close to each other and we are good friends.
"Of course, I have happy memories. We played together for two years and were fighting together in all the games. We had a good time in the dressing room."
Roma welcomed Salah’s return to the Olimpico in a tweet after the draw, saying that “whatever happens we’ll remain friends for life”.
The speedy winger also said he can’t wait to catch up with Totti, an iconic Roma figure who retired from professional football at the end of last season.
"He is amazing, unbelievable. He has everything. I love him. I have a good relationship with him, he's very nice," Salah said of the 2006 World Cup winner with Italy.
Can Liverpool win Champions League? Why not
Liverpool and Roma remain underdogs in the Champions League, with the winners of the other mouthwatering semi-final tie between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich tipped to lift the coveted trophy in Kiev next month.
But Salah is adamant that Liverpool can add to their haul of five European Cup trophies and clinch their first title since 2005 when they staged one of the most famous comebacks of all time to beat AC Milan on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw.
"We can, we are in the semifinal. I always say that we take it step-by-step but we are in the semifinal, everything can happen," Salah said.
"Everyone went into the quarterfinal with this emotion that we have to win, we can do it. Now with the semifinal, it's two games to the last step."
Liverpool booked a last-four berth with an emphatic 5-1 aggregate win over a mighty Manchester City side, with Salah finding the net in both legs to continue his impressive goal-scoring run.
He has now 39 goals to his name in all competitions, including 29 in the Premier League as he sits on top of the elite competition’s scoring chart, four goals ahead of Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane – his nearest challenger.
"Yeah, Harry Kane and (Manchester City striker) Sergio Aguero, you know I said before they are strikers, " Salah said.
"They play number nine, I play as a winger more. So it's easier for them because they're always in front of the goal, but I play as a winger.
"It's a little bit more difficult because I have to give assists. I have to give the ball up, create the chances, but they're number nines and it's easier for them."