Mohamed Elneny corrected a journalist when he was asked about his ‘friend’ Mo Salah by telling him the Liverpool man was his ‘brother’ not a friend.
The two 27-year-old’s, born 26 days apart, hail from towns 90 minutes from each other. They both made their debuts for their country on the 3 September 2011 against Sierra Leone in a 2-1 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Elneny, however, had the more memorable game, scoring Sierra Leone’s only goal of the game when he found his own net.
Both players also played together at FC Basel following time as teammates at Arab Contractors SC .
Anyway, the point of all that was to highlight that they have had similar paths, until they landed in England, at least, when Salah’s star shot to prominence as Elneny toiled away in that unspectacular style of his. On the pitch, they couldn’t be more different.
“He’s not my friend, he’s my brother,” Elneny told Milliyet in Turkey. “When we first became professionals, we played in the same team for two years. Then he went to Basel. Then I went [to Basel] and we played together again.
“Then we both went to England. He’s a great player. Everybody knows that. One of the most important players in the Premier League. A player who knows what he wants in the game in terms of football. A football player who can see them very well by seeing small details. I wish him many successes.”
Their paths have certainly diverged in recent years with Salah a Champions League winner and Elneny shipped out on loan after playing only 14 times for Unai Emery.
Elneny will spend the season in Turkey with Besiktas and will still have two years left on his Arsenal contract when his loan expires.