x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Walk of an Egyptian excites UAE and Al Wasl fans

Shikabala is a crowd-pleaser for his close control on the ball, eagerness to dribble past opponents and his magical left foot.

Shikabala enjoys celebrated status in Egypt.
Shikabala enjoys celebrated status in Egypt.

In negotiating the deal to bring Mahmoud Abdel Razek Fadlallah, better known as "Shikabala", to the UAE, Al Wasl have pulled off a coup, albeit not a cheap one, given that his loan from Cairo's Zamalek will reportedly cost the club more than US$100,000 (Dh367,000) a month in fees alone.

But, if you believe some of the publicity swirling around Shikabala in recent transfer windows, there will be envious glances being cast, all the way from European Champions League clubs such as Anderlecht - plausibly linked with the Egyptian this year - and good ones in Spain's La Liga, like Espanyol.

Reported interest from Italy's Napoli appears to have had little origin in the truth though.

Shikabala has a celebrated status among many Zamalek supporters in Cairo. He is a crowd-pleaser for his close control on the ball, eagerness to dribble past opponents and his magical left foot.

He can also strike a dead ball with great menace. At Zamalek, whom he joined as a boy and debuted for in his early teens, he also had the knack of rising to the big occasion, notably in derbies against Al Ahly.

He played abroad, with reasonable success, for a season with PAOK Salonika in Greece, but returned, as many top Egyptians do, to the passionate atmosphere and fervour of Cairo football.

He also reacquainted himself with controversy.

Part of the package with Shikabala is a questionable temperament. He clashed with Hassan Shehata, the respected former Egypt manager, at Zamalek.

Bob Bradley, the American in charge of the troubled national team, regards him with something less than blind faith as well.

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