Ahmed Elmohamady has been a familiar face in English football since he moved to this country in 2010.
Having originally joined Sunderland on loan before completing a permanent move from ENPPI in his native Egypt, the defender has racked up 381 appearances during his time with the Black Cats, Hull City and Aston Villa.
After reaching ten years of playing and living in England, we sat down with Elmohamady to look back on his stellar career.
Congratulations on completing ten years in English football. How do you reflect on your time in this country so far?
I remember my first day in England when I joined Sunderland, the first club I played for. It was a difficult beginning because I came to a different country, different culture and climate without my family and friends. But I got used to it well and enjoyed it. There were also some difficulties with language, but over time I learnt it. I’m proud of what I did, and I hope it will continue for years to come, as I think I’m the first Egyptian player to spend ten years here in England.
Tell us about how last season was for you and the journey of getting promotion to the Premier League?
The Championship is a tough league and it’s not easy to get promoted from it. The club spent two years in the Championship, and we reached the Play-Off Final in 2018 but we didn’t make it. We reached Wembley again in 2019 and we were determined to win and get promoted to the Premier League. We were inconsistent last season, but we were able to win the last 11 or 12 matches and finish in the Play-Off positions. It was one of the best days in my career. Of course, I prefer to play in the Premier League.
What makes Aston Villa special?
Aston Villa is one of the greatest clubs here in England and worldwide. The fans and atmosphere in Villa Park is awesome. I am pleased to be here and I’ve spent the best times of my ten years in England with Villa.
Away from football, how do you describe your life in England?
I am well settled here. I have my wife and my two kids, Malek and Nejma. I wanted to make a family ever since I came here to settle as early as possible.
Do you want to end your career in Egypt?
I’ve been here in England for a long time and I am looking to end my career here too, to be the first Egyptian player to finish their career in England.
How do you feel when you see more Egyptian players come to the Premier League?
It’s a good thing for Egyptian football. We have Salah and Trezeguet in the Premier League and Hegazi in the Championship. Playing in such a big league will benefit those players and in turn will benefit the Egyptian national team. I hope we see more Egyptian players play here in the future.
What is your advice to young Arab players?
You should be committed and work hard. Commitment is the key to achieve your goals, we have seen this in Salah and Trezeguet.
Who is the person that most influenced your career?
My father, because he always advises and supports me during difficult times.
Who is the best manager you’ve played for before Dean Smith?
Steve Bruce. He was the one who brought me here through Sunderland, then signed me for Hull City and Aston Villa. I respect Steve so much and he helped me a lot.
Who is the best player you’ve played with at international level?
I’ve played with many great players like Barakat, Aboutrika, Mido, Salah and Trez now. I can’t identify one player. They are all great players and I am proud of playing alongside them.
And who is the best player you’ve played alongside in England?
I’ve played with a lot of great players like John Terry and Jack Grealish. But for me Jack is the best because he is brilliant and can make the difference at any time.
Who is the best player you’ve played against in England?
Eden Hazard. He was one of the toughest and he is so talented. Also, Ashley Cole when he was in his prime at Chelsea.
Finally, what is the best moment of your ten years in England?
Promotion to the Premier League with Aston Villa. When you see the joy in the fans’ eyes, you realise how much they wanted it. It’s my best moment here for sure.