Johannesburg – One of Egypt’s greatest and Africa’s finest players, Mohamed Aboutrika, will bring an end to an illustrious career after this weekend’s CAF Champions League final against Orlando Pirates.
Aboutrika, who curled in a beauty against the Buccaneers in the first leg tie in Orlando last weekend, has won it all on African soil with club and country, lifting four Champions League titles with Al Ahly and three Africa Cup of Nations trophies with the Pharoahs. At 35, Aboutrika looks as though he can still go on for a few more years after using his experience well in this year’s edition of the Champions League to help the seven-time champions reach the final.
Some of South Africa’s players have had a chance to test their skills against the creative midfielder and few are likely to forget the experience of coming up against one of Africa’s best players. Former Platinum Stars midfielder Dillon Sheppard is one of those. The midfielder anchorman described Aboutrika as “special” after they clashed in 2008.
(Played against Aboutrika while at Mamelodi Sundowns in 2006)
I came on as a substitute in the first leg, but I did not play the second leg away from home. He (Aboutrika) was the star performer in the first leg. He was a lot younger at the time and he was a lot more mobile than he is now. Gordon (Igesund) was our coach at the time and I’m sure he’d tell you about the impact Aboutrika made. He played just behind the striker and he was the main man for Al Ahly. He showed that he is very clever because he was always able to pick the final ball, sometimes play it with the outside of his foot. He is also very dangerous at dead ball situations and you can see he proved it against Pirates. I did not get a chance to mark him, but I could see the huge role he played for Al Ahly.
He is a very good player.
(Played against Aboutrika while at Platinum Stars in 2008)
Most of us used to watch him playing for the Egyptian national team. We did not think we could get a chance to play against him.
But we did get a chance and it was a great experience, not only playing against him, but against a big team like Al Ahly.
I think he is one of the best players I have played against. He does not do a lot of running. He uses his brain and I think that’s what makes him special player. I think many youngsters can learn from him and the way he plays. Even at his age now, he is doing very well. It’s like he can still keep going.
When we played them, our coach, Miguel Gamondi, knew that we had to keep a close eye on Aboutrika because he had coached in Africa before. He told us about him and told us to make sure that we must not concede any free kicks in front of our box because he was very dangerous with the set pieces.