Abou-Treika defies odds to reach 100-goal milestone in Egyptian League

Hatem Maher, Saturday 22 Jan 2011

Mohamed Abou-Treika scores his 100th Egyptian Premier League goal in Ahly's 1-1 draw against promoted Maqassa

Mohamed Abou-Treika joins the century club

Mohamed Abou-Treika made light of recent criticism to reach the Egyptian Premier League's 100-goal milestone, thanks to the same steely determination that has seen him exceed all expectations.

The Ahly playmaker became the seventh player to achieve the feat since the inaugural season in 1948, his goal scoring instincts standing side-by-side with his ability to unlock the tightest of defenses with a deft pass.

He joins Hassan El-Shazly (176 goals), Hossam Hassan (168), Mostafa Riad (123), Sayed El-Dozwi (112), Mahmoud El-Khatib (108) and Ahmed El-Kas (107) in the 100-goal club.

Calls for the retirement of Abou-Treika were common during the past few months after he produced a string of below-par displays during a disappointing run for Cairo giants Ahly but he just kept doing what he does best - scoring goals.

Although not at the peak of powers, Abou-Treika still managed to further enhance his fame as one of Egypt's all-time footballing greats.

"I'm not considering retirement. I will bring the curtain down on my career when I feel that I'm no longer able to perform well," the classy forward said on his 32nd birthday in November last year.

"My honesty and responsibility toward Ahly fans oblige me to announce my retirement once I feel that I will not be able to play at the highest level."

Few believed Abou-Treika would be able to rise to stardom when he joined Ahly from tiny Tersana in January 2004.

Remarkable goal

Abou-Treika was a relatively unknown figure when Ahly recruited him as part of a rebuilding process to make amends for several years of underachievement.

Ahly's arch-rivals Zamalek were the superior side as they boasted a star-studded squad which proved too strong for their rivals.

They defeated Ahly 2-1 to wrap up a second consecutive league title in 2004 but their Cairo derby triumph was overshadowed by a truly remarkable goal from Abou-Treika.

Collecting a pass just inside Zamalek's half, he jinked into the area, left two defenders trailing in his wake and curled a delightful right-foot shot into the top corner of the net, signaling the beginning of a series of equally breathtaking strikes.

He has since haunted Zamalek on numerous occasions and is the derby's joint top scorer with ten goals.

Abou-Treika went on to lead Ahly to a host of domestic and continental titles, his decisive strikes playing a key role in maintaining their dominance over their rivals.

His most memorable goal to date came in 2006 when his last-gasp volley in Tunisia handed Ahly the African Champions League title at the expense of a downhearted and stunned Sfaxien side.

Abou-Treika's rich vein of form lasted until Ahly’s Portuguese coach Manuel Jose left the club in the summer of 2009. He struggled to replicate his heroics under Jose's successor Hossam El-Badry .

"I only feel comfortable when I play under Jose or (Egypt coach) Hassan Shehata," Abou-Treika, who was delighted after Jose returned to Ahly in the New Year, commented.

Being part of arguably the best Egyptian generation of all time, Abou-Treika also had a big role to play with the national team.

Although the Pharaohs failed to end their World Cup jinx, they won three successive African Cup of Nations accolades between 2006 and 2010.

The evergreen Abou-Treika notched the penalty which handed Egypt the 2006 title after a shootout win over Ivory Coast on home soil and rounded off a neatly-worked counter attack to help them retain their triumph following a 1-0 victory over Cameroon two years later.  

Broad smile

Abou-Treika is acclaimed as much for his superb displays as for his calm demeanour and charity work.

Regardless how tense things on the pitch are, he is often seen with a smile on the pitch giving opponents every reason to respect him despite enduring a torrid time trying to stop the threat he poses.

"Abou-Treika is the best Ahly player," current Tunisia coach Faouzi Benzarti, who was managing Esperance when the Tunisian club defeated Ahly in the 2010 Champions League semi-final, said.

"He is the best not only because of his displays, but also because he is very polite."

Even in the midst of an unfortunate fall-out between Egypt and Algeria following two bad-tempered World Cup qualifiers in 2009, Algerian diehard fans still had words of praise for the man.

He was given a standing ovation when he was substituted during Ahly's Champions League group-stage match away to Algeria's JS Kabylie in the summer of 2010.

Abou-Treika had his name enthusiastically chanted by Palestinian people in 2008 when he tore off his shirt to reveal a white vest inscribed with the words 'sympathize with Gaza' after scoring a goal against Sudan in the Nations Cup.

He paid tribute to the Gaza strip, which was then the subject of an Israel blockade, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) warned him against displaying any 'political slogans'.

"I love Abou-Treika," a Palestinian boy was videoed as saying a few days later. 

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