Mohamed Salah is just days away from the most important game of his career.
There’s a real chance that victory in Saturday’s Champions League final could set him up for the Ballon d’Or later this year, assuming he starts next season in decent form. Regardless of that, though, he has the opportunity to lift Liverpool’s sixth European Cup.
It would crown a season that has defied expectations and made the £36.8 million transfer fee that Liverpool paid AS Roma look like pittance.
In his first season with the Reds, Salah has accumulated no less 46 goals and 11 assists across 54 appearances.
All impressive stuff, no doubt but it would have seemed the stuff of fantasy when Salah was pulling on the shirt of Chelsea week in, week out.
SALAH STRUGGLED AT CHELSEA
Salah spent 18 months at Stamford Bridge between 2014 and 2015 and failed to impress in the Premier League before eventually being shipped out to Italy.
In a recent interview with Frank Lampard in the run-up to the Champions League final, Salah opened up on his troubled spell in west London. He once again reiterated that his youth and a lack of game-time was the cause of his struggles.
Salah explained: “When I was there [at Chelsea] I was not playing much. I think I was just young, yeah I didn’t have my chances, that’s what I can say about that time.”
WHAT SALAH DID WHEN HE STRUGGLED
However, Salah didn’t go down without a fight at Chelsea and the Egyptian explained how he tried to turn things around during his spell.
The 25-year-old reminisced: “I changed a lot as a person, as a player. When we met each other at Chelsea, you [Lampard] always trained alone after a training session.
“I saw you doing that, so I always came over to you to improve myself.
“And I went to the gym alone all the time at Chelsea because, in mind, all I want to do is improve myself. So I think I improved a lot as a person as well as a player.”
Typical Salah and in the best way possible.
When times were tough, Salah didn’t fade away, he tried his upmost to raise his game by training when everybody went home and working out when the training ground was empty.
He saw an experienced player like Lampard and learnt from him instantly.
In the end, his efforts weren’t enough for him to make it at Chelsea but that very elite mentality has helped him to progress so much in his career since.
When the long-term implications were success at Roma and Liverpool, he can’t complain.
Chelsea, on the other hand, must be wondering what might have been.
If Salah can bring home the Champions League title on Saturday night, then his return to English football really will be a fairytale. You wouldn’t put it past him.