Nagano, Japan, October 1, 2019 – Ahmed Abdelhay leads Egypt as captain and as one of the team’s more experienced players in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup
“This is the fifth time for me to play the World Cup in Japan so I feel like Japan is my second country and I like being here very much,” said the Cairo-born player who is more popularly known as Salah.
Back in Japan: Salah enters the court at Nagano's White Ring arena
“I only have a lot of good words. I like Japan because the people here have a big part of my heart. I like the lifestyle and the people, and the way they are very organized. They are very patient and they have a very good behavior. That’s why I love to play here,” said the 35-year-old opposite spiker.
Salah is not merely a five-time participant in the World Cup. He has played in Japan a total of nine times, counting the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup (2005, 2009), the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship (2006), and the FIVB Volleyball World League (2008).
In Tuesday’s first match at Nagano’s White Ring arena, Salah helped the Egypt team to victory with 14 points against Australia. But more than his scoring leadership, he brings wisdom and a wealth of experience to the squad.
“I started to have this kind of experience and attitude in 2003. I started to help my teammates by sharing my experience and supporting them. Especially when we come here to Japan, I try to give them advice on the culture, the jetlag involved, the people, the food, the competition,” he said.
A true captain: Salah shares advice and his experience with teammates
“I learned from my captains before, from the more senior players. I still follow their advice until now,” he adds.
Salah made his debut in the 2003 World Cup
Salah played against Brazil’s Giba and Gustavo in the 2007 World Cup
Salah scored 38 points against Tunisia in the 2015 World Cup
Egypt’s current coach Gido Vermeulen sees Salah’s experience as a great asset.
“It’s just an amazing thing that Salah will play his fifth World Cup so that’s good. All my players are inspired by him that this will be a very good tournament to show who we are and to see what we can do,” Vermeulen said.
Salah’s motivation goes beyond performing well on court. He sees his participation in the World Cup as a beacon of hope for young aspiring players back home.
Salah was named Best Spiker at the 2011 World Cup
“When we play in a big tournament like the World Cup, we try to give inspiration to our young players in Egypt to see that we represent our country. These young players can challenge themselves to aspire to play good volleyball on the top level,” Salah said.