Egypt's Salah wins Africa's best player award for 2nd straight year

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 8 Jan 2019

File photo: Champions League - Liverpool vs Spartak Moscow - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - December 6, 2017 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after the match REUTERS

Egypt's Mohamed Salah was voted Africa's best player for a second successive year on Tuesday, itching his name among the continent's all-time greats.

The Liverpool forward beat off competition from club teammate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to win the award, having scooped it last year at the expense of the same duo.

"This award is very big for me, I love it because I saw it when I was young and I always had a dream to win it one day," he said. 

"I'm proud to win it twice, I must thank my family and my team mates, and I dedicate this award to my country, Egypt."

He is the first Egyptian to be named Africa's best player twice and the sixth in the continent to win back-to-back awards after Ghana's Abedi Pele, Liberia's George Weah, Senegal's El Hadji Diouf, Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o and Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure. 

Salah was rewarded for another stellar year that saw him finish as the Premier League's top scorer with a record haul of 32 goals. He netted a staggering 44 goals in all competitions to also help the Reds reach the UEFA Champions League final.

Although he enjoyed a remarkable year, arguably the best of his career, there were still some lows.

He was replaced early in the Champions League final in May after sustaining a shoulder injury, leaving the pitch in tears as Real defeated Liverpool 3-1.

The injury took a toll on his first World Cup campaign as he missed Egypt's opening 1-0 defeat by Uruguay.

Although he scored in the two subsequent games against hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, he looked not fully fit and was not helped with the overall poor state of the team, who bowed out in embarrassing fashion on their first World Cup appearance since 1990.

Salah was also involved in some problems with the Egyptian Football Association over his image rights, making headlines for speaking out against the EFA in rare public criticism of the governing body.

The 26-year-old made a slow start to the new season compared to the previous one but bounced back quickly with a series of superb displays, finishing the year with 13 Premier League goals, just one short of the competition's leading scorers Aubameyang and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

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