Egypt's Mohamed Salah is both a 'fantastic' player and person: Former Basel director Heitz

Eslam Omar , Wednesday 27 Dec 2017

In a newspaper interview on Tuesday, Heitz recalled his best moments with Liverpool star Salah, praising his performance and personality

Former Basel FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz and Liverpool
Former Basel FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah

Former Basel FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz has renewed his praise for his former winger Mohamed Salah, expressing his pride at having brought the 'fantastic' Egyptian star to Europe.

“This was always the business model of Basel. We pick unknown players, develop and then give them to the big clubs in the big leagues,” Heitz told The Liverpool Echo in a long interview published on Tuesday.

Under the direction of Heitz, Salah moved to Switzerland's Basel FC in 2012 from Egyptian outfit Arab Contractors after sparking interest during his participation on the Olympic national team.

“You could see the talent after five minutes on the pitch. Not only was he quick, but he always had his head up."

Two years later, Basel sold Salah to Chelsea, where he scored twice in 13 games, then loaned him to Fiorentina and Roma, where he gained fame before a permanent move in 2016.

“He has improved even more compared to his time in Italy, and he really is in top shape. He’s fulfiling that huge potential. He’s a fantastic player and he’s also a fantastic person,” said Heitz.

The 25-year-old Salah is currently starring at Liverpool, scoring 15 goals in 20 League appearances, topping the list of the Premier League scorers, along with Tottenham ace Harry Kane, who also has 15 goals.

“What I always loved about this player then, and it’s still true today, he loves the game. For him, football is still a game. Some people tend to forget about that," Heitz explained.

“You can see it nowadays when he plays for Liverpool. He’s out there with a smile on his face. He really enjoys playing football.

“This is the most impressive thing. Football is a big business these days, but for Mo it’s still a game.”

The Egyptian winger, who helped his national team qualify for the World Cup after a 28-year absence, is in the race for the African Player of the Year award, along with his teammate at Liverpool Sadio Mane and Borussia Dortmund's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Salah has also won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award for 2017, beating Mane and Aubameyang.

Heitz said he will reunite with Salah soon, as he is planning a trip to Anfield.

“I wanted to see the derby against Everton, but there was an issue with the flights. I will come over to watch a game soon. I must, otherwise he might stop messaging me!

“Mo always sends me text messages saying: ‘When will you come to Liverpool?’” Heitz told the ECHO.

“He’s still in contact with all his friends from the beginning in Basel. He’s a humble and smart person, and that helps you in this crazy football world.”

“He’s a special person and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.” Heitz concluded.
 

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