Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah hasn’t forgotten where he’s from

Let us begin on the field of dreams. It is Monday lunchtime and we are in Nagrig, a small farming village tucked away off the main route that connects Cairo with Alexandria.

Down a dusty path that splits a field of jasmine, the scent of which lingers in the air, nine little boys are playing football. 

The pitch, scorched and bobbly, is squashed in between a row of flats — some are in disrepair, others have been left half-built — the local mosque and a community centre.

This is where the local children come to enjoy themselves and be free. Nagrig might be economically challenged but its people are friendly and happy and, today, they have never been more proud. 

It is from these humble beginnings, after all, that world football’s latest star emerged. This is the home of Mohamed Salah.

To walk around these quiet streets, you would not think it possible for someone to embark on such a thrilling journey but Salah, the eldest of four children, played on that same pitch, a two-minute walk from his family apartment, believing he could emulate his idols Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Francesco Totti. 

Now this generation believe they can emulate him.

Salah has given many things to Nagrig. He bought gym equipment for the community centre that now bears his name and paid for an all-weather football pitch to be built at Mohamed Ayyad Al-Tantawy school, where he studied. 

He gives money to help couples get married and frequently contributes to charity. More than anything, he has given hope.