Egypt and World Squash number 1 Mohamed El-Shorbagy
The 31-year-old former World Champion dropped a bombshell on Monday morning by deciding to play for England after representing Egypt for more than 15 years.
Elshorbagy, who started his career in 2006 and won 44 world titles, revealed that it took him four months to make this tough decision, which he believes will help him advance his career.
“The older you get, the more you need a team behind you, you need a doctor and a special coach in every tournament. These things were not available for me before, I needed support at this time in my career. England came to give me all I needed,” Elshorbagy told BBC Arabic.
“I am not talking about money, I am talking about support in tournaments, and support if anything happens to me on the field, God forbid, such as a severe injury. All of these things are like insurance if anything happens to me in my career.
“For many years no one thought about me. The time has come for me to think about myself. I was very annoyed each time I came to Egypt to see pictures of Egyptian athletes at the airport while I was the only champion who was omitted,” he added.
Elshorbagy also cited a lack of financial support, as despite being the World number 1 for 50 months, he did not have any Egyptian sponsor during his career.
He said in England they believed in him and contacted him in the worst period of his career.
“I feel upset when I say this, but the support you were supposed to get from your country, you didn't get it. When you have a team behind you it makes you feel appreciated and that they will give you the support you deserve. Unfortunately, I had to think of myself.
“I have always been proud of winning trophies. When I won my first tournament in Gouna in 2016, I received the trophy with the Egyptian flag and was very proud to embrace it,” he explained.
The world champion also voiced concern about the possibility of facing off against an Egyptian player in the future, and he does not know how the fans will respond to his decision.
“The fans didn’t harm me at all. Only some people have treated me badly. In the end I’m not talking about the country itself, as I love my country, Egypt. The toughest thing regarding my decision is the young players who look up to me.
“But the time has come to think about myself, and when I had the chance, I had to take this tough decision unfortunately,” he concluded.
The Egyptian Squash Association has dismissed Elshorbagy claims about not receiving support, saying it supported him throughout his career.
The association also said in its statement on Monday that Elshorbagy received the First Class Sports Medal from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in January 2018.
The national governing body also revealed that he has been living in Bristol since 2013, and declined on several occasions to compete with the national team in World Championships.
Meanwhile, his Egyptian club Heliopolis announced in a statement that it has terminated his contract following his decision to represent England.
Elshorbagy, who won the World Championship in 2017, is expected to represent England in the Necker Mauritius Open, which will start on 7 June.
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