Thursday, September 6, 2012

El-Gohary: More Than History

I was on my way back from the Friday prayers when a stranger in the street gave me a poster of the Egyptian national football team. That was in November 17, 1989, and I still remember that afternoon like it was yesterday. Egypt was having a football match against Algeria in the World Cup qualification. Egypt had to win that match to go to the World Cup held in Italy the upcoming year, and it did it.

Some months later, Egypt was having its first match in the World Cup with The Nederlands. That was the first time for my generation, as well as my father's generation, to see Egypt in the World Cup, the previous time we went there was in 1934, and by coincidence it was in Italy too. A friend told me in the morning that he had a computer program that can predict match results and it says Egypt will loose 9-nil. Sure he was bluffing, but it reflects how strong was the Dutch team in our eyes then compared to the Egyptian one. That was my first football match to watch ever. I was learning the football rules while watching it. And we had a 1-1 draw! Moments later, it was also my first time to see floods of Egyptians chanting and dancing in the streets. Now, more than 20 years later it is still our last time to see Egypt playing in the world cup finals so far.

Few years later, I became obsessed with football, and I happened to support a football team that has more defeats in its history than wins, El-Zamalek. But that year it won, not only the Egyptian league, but the African Champions League, and it followed it by the African Super Cup later on.

Eight years after the country's appearance in World Cup, it failed to make it to the two upcoming ones, and it hadn't won any of the African Cup of Nations trophies held outside Egypt since the 50's. But this time, Egypt made it to the final of the championship held in Burkina Faso in 1998, and bet South Africa 2-0, and we are the champions!

For an Egyptian born in the 80's who used to support El-Zamalek. Those are the most important events of football history to me. But this is not the only thing in common between all those events, the most important thing in common between them, is that in all those events it was Mahmoud El-Gohary who was the coach managing the national or local team I was supporting.



El-Gohary is one of the most important figures in the history of Egyptian and African football, and is considered by many as the best Egyptian football coach ever. He was the only one in Egypt's entire history to play in Al-Ahly and become the coach of its rival El-Zamalek later on. This - beside his achievements on the national level - made him loved by all Egyptian football fans regardless of which local team they support. And that's why everyone I know was so sad after they know he passed away few days ago.

I believe the least to be done is to name Cairo Stadium after him.

Post a Comment