Proud of Salah as an Arab: Elneny; Results are important, says Kaka


Ricardo Kaka and Mohamed Elneny pose with the dignitaries after the event.

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

Arsenal’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny and former Brazilian great Ricardo Kaka lit up a star-studded evening with their insights on the beautiful game of football in Sharjah on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Ramdan Majlis under the theme, The Offensive and Defensive Line, Football between Results and the Pleasure of Performance, both the legends poured their hearts out in a candid conversation.

They discussed the impact of training plans on football, the performance of players and their roles on the field, and the extent to which offensive and defensive forms of play reflect on club fans.

ElNeny wished Arsenal would win the Premier League. Arsenal are at the top of the standings with a lead of eight points over their closest rivals Manchester City.

“I want Arsenal to win the Premier League title. We have a very good chance. I think Arsenal get a lot of support from the Arab world because of me,” he said grinning.

He was also full of praise for his Egyptian team-mate and Premier League rival Mohd Salah.

“Salah is a legend. We are very proud of him as Arabs. He has been playing in the Premier League and is one of the top players here,” he added.

Elneny also rated Arsenal of 2003-2004 as the best team ever. It was in the same year they won their last Premier League title. They were unbeaten throughout the season and earned the title of invincible.

“For me Arsenal of 2004 is the best ever version of themselves. And because of that period fans started following Arsenal more. I enjoy playing at Arsenal.”

Despite Morocco’s meteoric rise at the international stage after their performance at the recently-concluded FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Elniny rated Egypt as the best African team among the Arabic-speaking nations.

Morocco became the first team to play in the semi-final of the showpiece event, which sent a wave of euphoria across Africa and triggered a pan-Arab celebration.

“That is a difficult question. But let me tell you for me it is Egypt because I am an Egyptian and it runs in my blood,” he said laughing.

He also spoke about his aspirations to become a coach in European football.

“The midfielders take a lot of orders from the coach. Zinedine Zidane also played as a midfielder. So this is a preparatory role to become a coach. I would love to be in Europe. The first Egyptian to be a European coach,” he revealed.

Kaka spoke about his eternal romance with his former club AC Milan, where he won many accolades and titles.Kaka is one of the most decorated footballers in history. He has won almost everything there is to win in his 20-year illustrious career.

Kaka was a part of the 2002 Brazilian World Cup winning team. He was an integral part of AC Milan for over a decade. Apart from winning the World Cup, he had a memorable season with Milan in 2006-07.

In 2007, he won the Champions League, lifted the Ballon D’Or trophy for his exploits with his Milan and was named as the European Player of the year and also won the Player of the Year title.  They also won the Club World Cup in the year.

Kaka moved to Real Madrid and there also he lifted the Spanish League crown thrice with Real Madrid from 2011-13 for three consecutive years. He shed light on the importance of achieving winning results both with the national team and his clubs.

“Not only did we enjoy the game but also came up with results. We won the World Cup in 2002. It was a very strong Brazilian squad. We had Ronaldinho, Ricardinho, Kafu, Rivaldo and myself. We enjoyed our game that helped us to achieve the positive results,” said Kaka.

“It is important to procure victories along with enjoying your game. We enjoyed our game most in the 2006 Brazilian team. But could not win. The Brazilian team of 1982 was the best team they had ever had. But they did not win the World Cup. No one remembers them, that is why results are also important,” he stressed.

“The same thing happened with AC Milan and Real Madrid. When we won the Champions League in 2007, we had a great squad and we enjoyed playing with each other. There was Clarence Seedorf, Dida, Andrea Pirlo and me to name a few. 

“My favourite team is Milan. I have played there for a long time. Carlo Ancelotti is the best coach I have played with. He can bring the best out of the players. We can talk about Milan and Real Madrid. He completely understands the game and the players.

“I really like Pep Guardiola but I have not played with him. He changes the game, he is amazing. It is not only about winning but the way he approached the game,” he added.

He also wished Milan all the best for their upcoming Champion League quarter-final match against Napoli.


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