Friday Apr 10, 2020. 09:00
With top-level football ground to a halt thanks to the coronavirus epidemic, we look back at a legend of yesteryear. This week’s spotlight falls on Egypt’s Hossam Hassan.
What his origin story?
Born in Helwan, Cairo on 10 August 1966, Hossam Hassan Hussein came through the ranks at Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the early to mid 1980s and quickly made a name for himself as a prolific goal scorer – a tag he would carry for the rest of his lengthy playing career.
Hassan spent the majority of his career with Ahly (split across two spells) and enjoyed great success with the Red Devils, winning 11 league titles, four Egyptian Cups, four African Cup Winners’ Cups and one African Club Champions Cup (now known as the CAF Champions League).
He had brief spells in Europe with Greek side PAOK and Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax in the early 1990s, but he struggled to adapt to life away from Egypt and returned to Ahly in 1992. “I should have continued my European career; it could have given me more international fame,” he later told FIFA’s official website [https://www.fifa.com/news/hassan-egypt-iron-man-1043446 ]. “I would have loved to play in Italy but I decided to return home in the spur of the moment to help my former club regain their pride.”
In 2000, having been released by Ahly a year before, Hassan joined forced with the old enemy Zamalek, making him perhaps the most famous player to have ever donned both the red and the white kits across the Cairo divide. Yet the striker was a major success with the White Knights, helping them win the 2002 Champions League among many other honours in the early 21st century.
Hassan left Zamalek in 2004 but was a long way from hanging up his boots despite being in his late 30s: he went on to play for Al Masry, Tersana and Al Ittihad before finally retiring at age 42.
Hassan’s time with the Egyptian national team stretched an incredible 21 years and saw him rack up 169 appearances and 70 goals.
He made his debut as a teenager in 1985 and played a bit-part role in the Pharaohs’ Africa Cup of Nations triumph the following year. Further AFCON success would arrive in 1998 and – most memorably – in 2006 on home soil when 40-year-old Hassan captained Egypt to the first of three consecutive continental crowns.
The striker’s career with the Pharaohs also included the decisive goal against arch rivals Algeria to seal qualification for the 1990 World Cup – Egypt’s first appearance at the tournament since their debut way back in 1934. “That was the best moment of my career,” explained Hassan. “I remember that the whole country was behind us and supported us to achieve that dream.”
“Leaving Ahly was a very tough moment, but when I look back at it now I see it as a blessing because I also played for Zamalek and had the same success. That made me one of the most popular players in Egypt.”
What’s he doing now?
Hassan is currently a coach, with his last appointment being at Egyptian Premier League club Smouah – he parted way with the Alexandria-based side in January of this year. The 53-year-old has moved around a lot in his managerial career, having spells with the likes of Zamalek, Al Masry, Pyramids, Ismaily and the Jordan national team.
Anything else to add?
Hossam’s twin brother Ibrahim played alongside the legend, at both club and international level, for most of his club career. Ibrahim Hassan enjoyed a great career, including over 100 caps for the Pharaohs.
Check out this compilation of Hossam Hassan banging in the goals through his career:
And this focus on a hat-trick for Neuchatel against Celtic in the UEFA Cup in 1991: