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 neighborhood 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. Ali said he paid $40 for the shirt, which he takes carefully from its hanger, while working every day to support his large family and without a wage from playing football. Lately, the "Mohamed Salah of Iraq" can't leave his house without being stopped for photographs or approached by football fans who mistake him for the Egyptian star.
"The day before yesterday I was in a mall; the security guards, the shop workers and the clients, everyone wanted to take a photo with me... even the girls!" said Ali.
He attracts similar attention at his own football matches: "When I played against the Lebanese club al-Ahed, people were taking photos with me for an hour and a half."
For Ali, his hopes will rest in one day coming face-to-face with his hero: "My life's dream is to meet Mohamed Salah... Perhaps he will invite me to the World Cup in Russia?"
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.