Mohamed Salah in full flight against Spartak.
LIVERPOOL FC: RUSH ON SALAH
Grace under pressure
Mohamed Salah has enjoyed an astonishing first season at Liverpool, netting 44 goals and propelling the Reds to their eighth European Cup final. Ian Rush, the club’s all-time top scorer with 346 goals, has been as captivated by the Egyptian as the most ardent fan on the Kop
“Composure in front of goal is what it’s all about. As a striker the most important thing, and the hardest, is to make sure the goalkeeper or defender always makes the first move. You have to hang on as late as possible. Salah does exactly that. His goal in Porto was fantastic. He waited and waited. People dive in, but he won’t. People expect him to shoot, but he won’t. It’s about having the confidence to hold on to that ball. That split second makes a massive difference. That’s why he’s scored so many goals.
“When I scored 47 goals in ‘83/84, I went out knowing I was going to score. Salah’s the same. It’s all about confidence and he’s 100% full of confidence. He’s a bit like Ronaldo and Messi, but they’ve been doing it for years. This season he’s up there with them, probably the two best players in the world, but he has to do that consistently.
“It’s about natural ability, but you have to work hard and Salah has. Klopp’s played a big part. When I first saw Salah early this season, he was running in a circle to kick with his left foot and that takes an extra second. When he began to score he was starting to use his right, even if it was to put it on his left to shoot. That takes away that second and that’s the difference in football.
“The way Liverpool play suits Salah. The 4-3-3 formation is perfect for him, for Firmino, for Mané. His greatest strength is his pace. He’s very quick. His movement inside the penalty box is also very good. He’s got a very good football brain. If someone’s in a better position, he’ll pass. And when he scores, he runs to the person that made it for him – not to the crowd. Bob Paisley taught me that. If you score, always congratulate the one that made it for you. If you don’t, he probably won’t do it again! Salah is so humble and down to earth, which is what Liverpool fans like. All they demand is 100%. As long as you work hard for the team they will accept that.
“I see similarities in the fantastic team spirit between our 1984 European Cup-winning team and this one. That’s the reason they’re in the final. They all help each other. It doesn’t matter who scores. After such a fantastic season, it would be the icing on the cake to bring that trophy back to Liverpool. With people like Salah in your side, you’re always capable of that.”