Salah’s Iraqi lookalike dreams of football glory
Baghdad, June 7: With his black beard, curly hair and football shirt, Iraqi striker Hussein Ali is often mistaken for one of the world’s top players: Egypt’s Mohamed Salah.
In the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 20-year-old Ali is frequently stopped in his working-class Hurriya neighbourhood by people wanting a photograph with their idol.
Although he is himself a striker, for the Al-Zawraa club, it is Ali’s likeness to Salah which piques Iraqis’ interest.
“At the first training session, he introduced himself as ‘Hussein Ali’. I replied, ‘No, no, you are Mohamed Salah,” said Ali’s coach Adnan Mohammad.
Back when Salah was playing for AS Roma, Ali was aware of the resemblance but took the comments as “a joke”.
But when the Egyptian shot to global fame in the Premier League — becoming “the number one footballer for all Arabs” according to Ali — his Iraqi doppelganger started to seriously work on his image.
Since then, he has started wearing the red shirt of Salah’s club Liverpool.
“It’s the real shirt, bought from an official supplier,” he said proudly from his small house, where the shutters are closed against the Baghdad heat during the long hours of electricity cuts.