Mohamed Salah completed a memorable day for Egyptian football by retaining his African Player of the Year award in Senegal Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Liverpool star finished first with club-mate Senegalese Sadio Mane and Arsenal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the other finalists.
“I have dreamt of winning this award since I was a child and now I have done so twice in a row,” Salah said soon after receiving his trophy in Dakar. “My thanks go to my family, my teammates and my fans and I dedicate this trophy to my homeland, Egypt.”
It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.
Egypt crushed sole rivals South Africa 16-1 earlier on Tuesday in a CAF executive committee vote in Dakar to decide which country succeeded Cameroon as 2019 Cup of Nations hosts.
Delays to preparations and concerns about security resulted in the central African nation being replaced as hosts, and they will stage the 2021 tournament instead.
While the 15-vote winning margin for Egypt was unexpected, the success of Salah was anticipated as he continues to score regularly for the English Premier League leaders.
Salah netted 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season — his first with the Anfield club — and has bagged 13 Premier League goals so far this season.
Ironically, Aubameyang has scored one league goal more than Salah, topping the charts with Tottenham Hotspur and England star Harry Kane on 14.
Salah was born in a northern Egyptian town Nagrig and used to make eight-hour return trips on buses to train with Cairo-based El Mokawloon (Arab Contractors).
Spotted by scouts from Swiss club Basel, he moved there in 2012 before joining Premier League giants Chelsea two years later.
Salah found scoring difficult early in his professional career and was nicknamed “chancentod” (chance killer) by the Swiss media.