In Cairo, sadness and anger filled cafes where Mohamed Salah’s fans gathered to follow the Champions League final after an injury forced him off the pitch, but many soon rooted for Real Madrid, saying they were supporting Liverpool only for Salah.
“He’s the son of our country, we are sad when anything happens to him,” said Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Fattah, a 27-year-old engineer.
Following the game with his fiancee at a cafe in an alley in downtown Cairo adored with Ramadan decorations, Abdel-Fattah is not unhappy though as he is at base a Real Madrid fan.
Lanterns and brightly coloured lamps fill downtown Cairo, like many of Egypt’s streets in celebration of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
After people broke their fast around sunset, they slowly trickled in, taking their seats at downtown cafes.
With a large painting of Salah’s face in the background, the outdoor cafe Zahret el-Boustan (the flower of the garden), popular among football fans, is particularly busy today.
The fans scream with excitement each time Salah’s face appears on the giant screens set up for today’s match.
But this joy was short lived, when Salah, popularly known by his nickname The Egyptian King, was forced off by a shoulder injury on 31 minutes after a tangle with Real defender Sergio Ramos.
As Salah, Liverpool’s top scorer, cried as he left the Champions League final, so did his fans who burst into tears, and in shock threw insults at Ramos.
But after the shock settled, many reverted to supporting Real Madrid, one of the most popular clubs in Egypt, along with Barcelona.
“We were only supporting Liverpool for Salah,” said Mahmoud Saad, a 33-year-old director of a tourism company.
One man even came wearing the shirt of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Looking proud with a joyful smile, he declined to speak in fearing an angry reaction, he said laughing.