JERUSALEM, Israel, Apr 25 – Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah’s devastating performance for Liverpool in the Champions League has brought him an unexpected fan — the Israeli defence minister.
“I will be calling the chief of staff immediately to tell him to hire Mohamed Salah to the Israeli army,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on Twitter after Salah inspired Liverpool to a 5-2 victory over Roma in the first leg of the Champions League semi final.
The Egyptian scored two goals and grabbed two assists Tuesday, but did not celebrate after scoring as a mark of respect for his former club.
He has 43 goals in all competitions this season and was voted the best player in the Premier League by his fellow players.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek demand from Lieberman, there appears no chance that Salah will turn out for an Israeli team.
Although Egypt is one of only two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel, public opinion remains largely hostile to the country and supportive of the Palestinians.
In 2013 Salah, then at FC Basel, was accused of changing his boots to avoid shaking hands with the players of the Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv before a preliminary round of Champions League.
Before the start of the second leg, his choice of a “fist bump” rather than handshake hand also attracted attention.
He was roundly booed and whistled by Maccabi fans during the game but still scored.
Salah then explained that there was a lot of pressure on him before this match, but that he was not interested in politics at all.
“The club told me if I don’t go I will be suspended and there will be lots of problems. So I went and thank god I scored,” he said in a 2014 interview.