Mohamed Salah has reportedly reached out to the artist who created a sculpture of him that went viral in order to encourage her to continue with her art.
Egyptian sculptor Mai Abdalla faced a backlash after her piece was unveiled at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh last week .
The sculpture quickly went viral, and as well as being compared to the infamous bust of Cristiano Ronaldo that was unveiled in Madeira last year, also earned comparisons with the likes of Leo Sayer and Art Garfunkel because of Salah’s almost comically high hair.
The Liverpool star is a hero in his homeland after leading Egypt to their first World Cup finals since 1990, and although they ended up losing every game in Russia in the summer, the design was commissioned to show how much Salah is idolised by the country’s youth.
The negative reaction to the creation has caused a stir online, but – according to Egypt Today , via the Liverpool Echo – Salah has taken steps to ensure that the artist isn’t too discouraged.
In a Facebook post, Abdalla wrote: “International and our hero captain, our player Mohamed Salah, personally contacted me just now and encouraged me to continue.
“He asked me not to pay attention to the negative comments and told me that I am a very good artist. And asked me to take my time in the work of a new statue to put him in his home.”
Salah retains hero status in Egypt despite a row with the country’s football association that began during the World Cup, when he was forced to meet with controversial Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
The row has now cooled though, and after playing for Egypt in a 4-1 win over Eswatini last month, Salah is set for feature for Egypt in an Africa Nations Cup qualifier against Tunisia next week.