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Saturday, 1 December, 2001, 15:02 GMT
Egypt's Christian captain
Hani Ramzy, a Christian captain of a Muslim nation
Egypt's national team captain Hany Ramzy is in the unusual position of being a Christian at the helm of a Muslim country.

Ramzy has been the most successful player in the modern history of the Egyptian football.

He emerged in the Egyptian football scene at a young age, when he played for his club Ahly at the age of 18 and it took him another year to join the national team who qualified to the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Moving to the Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax after those finals, with a record deal of 1 million dollars at the time was the turning point in his career.

Ramzy made his way through his professional career in Europe with a lot of determination and willpower.

He later moved to the Bundesliga and played for top class clubs like Werder Bremen and is currently playing for Kaiserslautern, which makes him the most successful Egyptian player in European football.

Ramzy's recipe for success

"I left Egypt with a desire to succeed and make a name on the pitches of Europe, honor my country, and gave myself no other options" he says.

Ramzy believes that the secret behind his success so far was his resilience and discipline.

He thinks that the problem with most Egyptian players is that they always have the alternative of going back home at the back of their head, whenever they face major problems in the hard life of professional football.

In his beginnings in Europe he was happy with European lifestyle although he admits that his main problem was escaping from the police, since he used to drive his sports cars at very high speeds!

The handsome Pharaoh became so popular among the fans and young teenagers that his ex-coach in Bremen Otto Rehhagel once said "He brings more teens to the stadium".

Treated with respect

Ramzy does not deny that being a Christian helped him in blending into the European culture but he denies that it made any significant effect on his career either in Egypt or in Europe.

"I never faced any problems during my football career in Egypt despite the fact I was the only Christian player.

Ramzy says his team mates all treat him with respect and the young players always ask for his advice.

"I was even honored by being the National team¿s captain lately", he stated.

In a country like Egypt, where ten out of 70 million of its inhabitants are Christians, Ramzy is the most respected and beloved player among all football fans.

On the other hand he complains from the racism that he faces sometimes in the Bundesliga from the German referees.

"I get yellow cards in some situations where it is very obvious that any other German player would get away with it", he protests but he believes it is not a major problem for him.

Ramzy's trip to Israel

Ramzy made a controversial move, when he went with his ex-club Werder Bremen and played in Israel against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA cup.

Such a step would not even be debatable for many Egyptians, as it would be considered a betrayal.

From Ramzy¿s point of view, he was doing his work as a professional player, in addition to the fact that by that time the relations between Arabs and Israel were in a much better condition.

He describes his visit to Israel as an interesting experience.

The media welcomed him and he was under the spotlight during his stay.

He also remembers that some of the fans received him in a hostile way, which he considers normal in football.

"I do my work as a professional and I do not mix Politics with Sports", he noted.

World Cup depression

Ramzy has had his bad moments too.

He is depressed because he is not going to be able to play in the World Cup finals.

He blames what he sees as incompetent administration and people who are running the game in Egypt like amateurs.

The Egyptian team captain doesn¿t have a better opinion about his country¿s odds in hosting the WC 2010.

He commented "I don¿t see any light or good future, we are so far from staging such a big competition."

"I believe South Africa¿s chances are much better than ours" he said.

Despite the fact that he played most of his career in the top teams in the Bundesliga, he never won a single European title.

At the age of 32, he is in the twilight of his career and his main aim is to win a European title.

See also:

10 Nov 01 |  Africa
Bartlett makes the difference
09 Nov 01 |  Football
South Africa confront Egypt
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