Egypt's Mohamed Salah has gained high praise from the mayor of Liverpool city region Steve Rotheram, who said that the young Muslim star is breaking down cultural barriers.
“The breakdown of Islamophobia caused by one person is an absolutely phenomenal achievement,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live documentary Mo Salah: Football is Life, adding that Salah's "legacy will be much more about what's happened off the field."
The former Arab Contractors and Roma winger, who gave the best season ever played by an Egyptian player abroad, collected a sheaf of individual awards in the Premier League last side after scoring 44 goals with Liverpool, and has become widely popular with fans at Anfield, as well as elsewhere.
"What Salah's done is what John Barnes did for the black community in the 80s," Rotherham’s mayor told the programme, according to reports in the Liverpool Echo, discussing the impact the young Muslim star has had.
Barnes was a Jamaica-born left-back who played for Liverpool for ten years as well as for the England national team.
“He’s starting to break down barriers. Some of them (Liverpool fans) probably don’t fully appreciate the songs they sing about Mo Salah but to have that breakdown of Islamophobia caused by one person is an absolutely phenomenal achievement,” Rotheram said.
Salah is playing his first World Cup season with Egypt, who had qualified for their first tournament since 1990. He has so far scored the Pharaohs' only goals, one each in their two defeats to Uruguay, 0-1, and to Russia, 3-1,
He will appear with the Pharaohs’ for their last group match against Saudi Arabia on Monday.