In Nagrig, the footballer’s birthplace, his generosity and rise to fame are inspiring a generation of new sports stars

The village where Mohamed Salah grew up is a cluster of red-brick houses threaded together by dusty unpaved streets and surrounded by a shimmering sea of green fields. In its centre, Ahmed al-Masery sits in an empty coffee shop watching highlights on a tiny, wall-hung TV of his old friend playing for Liverpool against Roma. “I used to play football games on PlayStation with him back in the day,” says the 35-year-old, gesturing at the screen.

Back then, Salah would pick Liverpool to play video games with his friend. Now the player is the Merseyside club’s favourite adopted son, a striker whose goals have inspired his team into the Champions League final later this month. Fans are devoted to their “Egyptian king” – one song includes the line “if he scores another few, I’ll be Muslim too”.

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