The greatest footballers often aspire to become great coaches. Maradonna is but the latest to try his hand in a leadership role. One who is setting out on that path is Hossam Hassan. The Egyptian legend became the most-capped and highest-scoring player in African football history (83 international goals and 170 appearances over 21 years with the Pharaohs). Hassan joined Cairo’s prestigious Al Ahly in 1985 and forced his way into the national team not so much for technique as for what FIFA described as “the steely resolve that would become his trademark which ensured that he was soon enough established as his country’s first-choice forward.”
Successes and setbacks
In 1988, Mahmoud El Gohary took over the Pharaohs reins for the first time and steered the team to their second FIFA World Cup appearance two years later. Hassan found in El Gohary a mentor.
After a spell in European football Hassan returned to a struggling Al Ahly, and helped them regain their former status. But he suffered a setback when he was released (together with his twin brother) under a disciplinary storm. He then moved to Al Ahly’s great rivals Zamalek and duly led them to several titles. He also continued his international playing career (there are some similarities with David Beckham) and in 2006 at the age of 40, he was part of the Egypt team that regained the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006.
He remains a controversial figure, although he retains ambitions of international coaching leadership: “I hope one day to take charge of the Egyptian national team…and I believe that I will achieve that very soon.”
Image from the Zamalek webpage. Also to the student in Dubai who introduced me to the name of his sporting hero. If he reads my post and gets in touch I will be pleased to add his name to the acknowledgements here.