LIVERPOOL - Fuelled by the adrenaline rush of clinching Egypt's first World Cup berth in 28 years, Mohamed Salah has set his sights on rescuing Liverpool's spluttering Champions League campaign.
After drawing their opening two Champions League matches, Liverpool have no margin for error when they face Maribor in Slovenia on Tuesday. Fortunately for under pressure Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, in Salah they have the man for the big occasion.
Salah was the key figure as Egypt enjoyed a dramatic 2-1 win against Congo last week that booked their return to the World Cup for the first time since 1990. The 25-year-old sparked wild scenes of celebration across Egypt when he converted the decisive penalty five minutes into stoppage-time.
The Liverpool winger had given Egypt the lead on the hour with a cool finish, but Congo almost spoiled the party when Arnold Bouka equalised two minutes from full time. Mahmoud Hassan was brought down in the area with just seconds left and Salah stepped up to score the penalty that clinched their place in Russia next year.
Salah became an instant national hero and has already had a school from his hometown of Basyoun renamed in his honour.
"That was to me a dream come true, whether as a footballer or an Egyptian citizen and fan. I'm proud I made the Egyptians happy," Salah said of the epic victory.
"When I stepped up to take the penalty, I didn't think of anything but scoring and winning the game.
"The most difficult moment in my life was when the fans fell silent following Congo's equaliser but thank God we finally realised a childhood dream of my own."
Salah's heroics for Egypt maintained his impressive revival since being sold by Chelsea in 2016 and now he is focused on sparking more jubilant scenes -- this time on Merseyside.
Since joining Liverpool for a then club record £39 million ($51 million, 43 million euros) from Roma in June, Salah has quickly won over the doubters with six goals in 12 appearances.
That fine form is a far cry from his time at Chelsea, where he scored just twice in 19 appearances before being sold by then boss Jose Mourinho. Mourinho felt Salah's slender frame was ill suited to the frenetic Premier League and twice loaned him out to Fiorentina and Roma. But Salah was reborn after making a permanent move to Rome.
Thriving in a league where obdurate defending has been turned into an art form was a huge boost to Salah's confidence and that, combined with his growing maturity off the pitch, convinced Klopp to bring him to Anfield.
Klopp isn't the only one dazzled by Salah's potent combination of poise and pace, with Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry claiming he has the potential to be one of the world's best.
"I don't think it's about proving anything to Mourinho, but proving to the Liverpool fans that you are this guy, that you can be a player like (Philippe) Coutinho," Henry said recently.
"For me, he is special, he has something special. He will be a special player for Liverpool. I like the fact that he is direct. We don't have a lot of players like that in the game anymore.
"And yes, people will say sometimes that he needs four opportunities to score a goal. When he is able to finish all the opportunities he has then he will be more than lethal for this club."