Italy's El-Shaarawy explains why he turned down Egypt's offer, praises Salah's role with the Pharaohs

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Nov 2017

Italy's midfielder Stephan El Shaarawy (AFP)

Roma winger Stephan El-Shaarawy has said that he chose to decline an offer to play for the Pharaohs and instead play for Italy.

''Playing for Italy was a choice," El-Shaarawy told a TV programme on Sunday.

"I love Egypt; it is a great country, but I was born in Italy and my desire was to play for the Azzurri."

El-Shaarawy, whose father is Egyptian, has played 23 matches with the Italian national team, scoring three goals so far.

He revealed that he received an Egyptian offer to represent the U-20 Egyptian national team but he opted for Italy.

"The Egypt U-20 coach made an offer for me to play for his side but I opted for Italy.

"I represented Italy's youth teams in different categories and my dream was to play with the senior team."

Italy, who have won four World Cup titles, missed out on next year's edition in Russia, the first Italian no-show since 1958, after failing against Sweden in a World Cup decider.

Egypt ended their 28-year World Cup drought after leading their group in the African qualifiers last month.

However, the former AC Milan winger praised the vital role of Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah in the Pharaohs’ triumphant campaign in the World Cup qualifiers.

El-Shaarawy played with Salah at Roma last season before the latter make a switch to the Premier League side Liverpool last summer.

Salah was instrumental in Egypt's qualification, scoring five goals that made him Pharaohs' top scorer in the qualifiers.

"Salah is great player and I know well his capacities. I spent with him a good time at Roma; he is a great person.

"His role in Egypt's qualification was very clear. He was the source of inspiration of the Egyptian football team during the qualifiers," he said. 

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