Mohamed Salah is not accustomed to being booed by crowds. But as he lifted the Golden Boot at Anfield on Sunday, the award given to the highest goalscorer in the 38-game Premier League season, the crowd made it clear who they preferred to have the football, and it was not their star striker but his adorable 3-year-old daughter.
Sporting a red number 11 Liverpool jersey, the active youngster had been unable to resist kicking around a couple of the balls left near the sideline while her FWA Footballer of the Year, PFA Player of the Year, and Premier League Player of the Season father was getting his picture taken with the Golden Boot. Once she realised that the cheers from fans in the stadium were for her each time she kicked the ball, however, she broke into a run towards her daddy on the field. She then changed her mind halfway, rounding back to kick a ball out to the 25-year-old striker. Salah accepted the pass, but when he playfully dodged his daughter’s advance at the ball, loud boos greeted him from the crowd.
Salah responded well to the negative feedback, smiling broadly and shrugging his shoulders as his daughter approached the ball again and successfully kicked it away, to another big cheer from the crowd.
Being a fan and media favourite clearly runs in the family. While dozens of videos of the exchange with his daughter have been shared since Sunday, accolades for and discussion about Salah’s ability have continued unabated.
Truly, everyone seems to have something to say about the Egyptian forward. While the Premier League commemorates his record-breaking 32 goals this season, Liverpool fans are celebrating their qualification in next year’s Champions League and anticipating this year's final in the same competition against Real Madrid on May 26th. Meanwhile, ESPN commentators argue about whether he is the third or fourth best footballer in the world, and sports writers around the globe debate how the Egyptian national team will fare against Russia in the upcoming World Cup.
Questioning all the ballyhoo is Harry Kane, who won the Golden Boot for the two previous seasons and came in second this year. While he congratulated Salah on his achievement, he noted that greatness requires consistency and challenged them both to continue the kind of results they achieved this season for the next few years.
For now, Salah is certainly a sports media darling and a huge asset to both Liverpool and his Egyptian national team. And as his fans hope this year’s performance is more than a flash in the pan, many also will wish for more appearances from his adorable daughter.