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"El Shaarawy? Who cares!" Egyptian love for Serie A is a long-time story
Italian football is still one of the most followed in the North African country. A passion which goes beyond the rising of Milan's Italian-Egyptian talent
by Mohamed Ezzat
Italy is synonymous of good memories for Egyptian football fans. The only two times the Egyptian national team has qualified to the World Cup was when the tournament was held in Italy: in 1934 and in 1990 after a deciding game against Algeria in 1989. Ever since that date, plenty of Egyptians started to keep up and follow the Serie A, along with the arriving of players such as Diego Armando Maradona, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and others.

It was as well the breakthrough for Egyptian players to play in the foreign leagues, Egyptian professional players are estimated to be around 68 all over the world, two of them play in Italy, one – Ahmed Ghazi - in Lega Pro (the Italian third division) with Pavia's jersey. The other, Ahmed Hegazy plays for Fiorentina.

But there is a footballer, officially an Italian player, who grabs the attention of the Egyptian fans when they watch Serie A matches on Tv: he's Stephan El Shaarawy born to Egyptian father and an Italian mother.

But what does Serie A mean for the Egyptian? Which are the favourite teams in the North African country? SerieAddicted interviewed a group of friends in Egypt. Let's read what they think.

Hassan Mohamed is a 26 years old petroleum engineer. He watches Serie A every week, when asked about his favorite club he replies Milan, not for particular reason but because when he saw them playing he fell in love with them. Obviously he likes El Shaarawy. His expectations for this season? AS Roma will win the Scudetto.

Ahmed Bondok, 20 years old, is an university student, he watches Serie A every week. “For me Serie A is a never ending love story”, he says. “I'm an AS Roma supporter because of Francesco Totti, he's my football idol. I started following him and the team since I was 10 and ever since”. Ahmed adds that he knows every single little detail about the club. He hopes that Roma will reach European competitions for the next season: “They have been perfect so far, but is not going to be easy against great teams like Juventus and Napoli. I think Roma's project is similar to Barcelona and PSG ones”. Unlike many others in his country, he doesn’t consider El Shaarawy as an Egyptian.

Amr Khaled is a 24 years old engineer. “I follow SerieA every week, I love it more than other leagues, and I'm a loyal fan of Inter”, We ask him why, and Amr says that he started following nerazzurri because of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adriano, but he was also moved by the loyalty of captain Javier Zanetti.

When asked about the Egyptian players in Serie A, Amr as well says that El Shaarawy cannot be considered Egyptian, instead of Fiorentina's Ahmed Hegazy, but he was less lucky due to his double injure to his cruciform ligament, and he hopes that he will be able to get a chance to prove himself, at least with another team on loan. Amr hopes that in this season Inter could reach the Champions League as he thinks that there is no chance for the team to compete for the title, adding that if Erick Thohir manages to spend more in the calciomercato, nerazzurri will be able to reach the top four, especially because Inter is not under the pressure of participating in many competions like Juventus and Napoli.

In the last twenty years Serie A has lost most of its charme in favour of Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga. But in Egypt, and not only, there are loyal fans that whatever happens and whoever plays, keep watching and following Calcio.

Tuesday, November 12 th, 2013
For discussion of this topic and many more about Serie A, join R/ItalianFootball