If there is a name that every BabaGol follower & community member is familiar with, Omar Abd al-Rahman, or in short - Amoory - would be it.
After watching a short video of the guy, everyone ask in comments, "But why he is not playing in Europe?". Usually, this is the stage that we explain how much he earns (around £3 million per season), that he is a shy guy who’s very connected to his family, intriguing the mentality of football stars in the Gulf, or rather, the mindset of the sheikhs who pay them.
This week, something rare happened. After the Asian Awards ceremony, Amoory was interviewed (which does not happen very often), and declared that his dream is to play in Europe, adding that he draws much inspiration from Liverpool star Mohammed Salah.
The best player in Asia in 2016 (lost this year to another Amoory- Omar Khribin, who became first Syrian ever to win the prize), who currently plays in Al Ain at the UAE, revealed that he recently received offers from France and England, and recalled how in 2013 he was very close to signing at one of England’s bests, but eventually did not get a work permit.
"I received offers from Nice and Arsenal, but both the negotiations fell," Amory told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
"I was on trial for two weeks in Manchester City and almost joined them four years ago, but the Emirates' FIFA ranking was low at the time so I could not get a registration. Now I have offers from clubs in Turkey (reportedly Fenerbahce)”.
The 26-year-old added that he still wants to play in Europe, and succeed in the same way as the Premier League’s top scorer - Egyptian Mohammed Salah.
"I have to play in Europe, and my contract with Al Ain is over in six months, so I can go there soon," he noted.
"Look at Salah and how the whole world is talking about him. He managed to put Egypt on a good spot in world of football and in general, and led them to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years”, he concluded.
Now, there's a serious issue respect and prestige here.
Since 2012, Amoory was considered the biggest Arab star, even though he did not play in Europe. In recent years, the hype around him has increased massively, but on the field he has struggled, and couldn’t managed to bring his club and national team to significant achievement, and his status has been eroded.
Into this vacuum, Salah entered in storm, and quickly, and quite elegantly, became the senior Arab football player on the planet.
In an opposite route, Salah was not tempted to earn exaggerated sums at a young age, but made a gradual rise, and paradoxically - thanks to Egypt’s local scene crisis after Port Said disaster - went abroad until he reached his status today. In addition, Salah has left vey young for Basel, when he was 20. Amoory is already 26.
As a Yemenite refugees’ son who was born in Saudi Arabia, that from an early age is financing his entire family wealthy thanks to his football skills, was basically captivated by the enthusiasm around him in the Emirates. Now he is approaching the peak of his career, and soon will no longer have offers to play in Europe.
It is doubtful that Amoory will score 18 goals and to pass 4 assists in his first 23 games in any European team like the Egyptian did in Liverpool, but he is sure to add interest, ‘color’ and a lot of style to any league he will trade his ply at.
The upcoming summer becomes a critical one for Amoory.
If he will sign in Europe, we may finally discover whether he is really made of the truly greats’ material, or that he is only a particularly gifted, but not more than that. And if he will stay in the Gulf? We will probably never know, and we’ll be left with a sense of a terribly missed opportunity.
Two weeks of trial in Manchester City is not enough for the international football community. Sympathy for his ball control & magical Afro haircut will not help.
Amoory is not alone. Many Arab footballers that could have been tremendous in Europe haven’t done it. Mohammed Aboutrika, Younis Mahmoud and Ismail Mattar, all were tipped to rock the football world, but stayed within their countries and region borders.
Egyptian legend Aboutrika was well mixed in the political & social discussion in Egypt and went, only for a short period, after the big money of Baniyas. Iraqi Younis Mahmoud was held by Uday Hussein and local FA to stay in the country, and later became a national symbol for hope during the Iraqi Civil War.
Mattar is a very similar case to Amoory. Talented, explosive player who ‘tempted’ to stay in the Emirates for unrealistic conditions he wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
A ‘fantasist’ player that went to Europe is former Zamalek talisman, now at Saudi al-Raed - Shikabala. Though, his stint with Sporting Lisboa was nothing to tell the kids about, and he came back to the Middle Eastern scene as fast as he left.
So who are you Omar Abd al-Rahman?Amoory the first? Salah II? An Emirati Shikabala? Or simply another Ismael Mattar?As time is running fast, answers will arrive very soon.