Hull hero Elmohamady wants to be centre stage on Premier League return

The 25-year-old discusses the drama of the final day in the Championship season, new Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio, Steve Bruce, and making an Egyptian mark on English football
By Jamie Dunn

With Manchester United reclaiming the title with weeks to spare and Wigan losing the battle to stay up before the final day, the 2012-13 Premier League season will likely be consigned to the annals of time fairly quickly.

Just one tier below in the Championship, however, the drama was relentless. In the final moments of the regular season, Hull City were awarded a penalty which, if converted, would seal a 3-1 victory over already-promoted Cardiff and see the Tigers return to the top flight.

Nick Proschwitz - a goal hero half an hour before - missed. Cardiff attacked and won a spot kick of their own, which Nicky Maynard converted, leaving Hull to play an anxious waiting game at the KC Stadium, huddled around a television to see if third-placed Watford could beat Leeds and steal promotion at the death.

In the KC corridors, Ahmed Elmohamady was at the centre of the huddle as Ross McCormack chipped Watford's 19-year-old goalkeeper Jack Bonham, who fumbled into his own net, handing Leeds a win at Vicarage Road and sending the Egyptian and his team-mates into raptures.

"It's horrible, you know, when you have a chance in your hands and it's gone, and you have to wait for someone," Elmohamady told Goal. "It finished dramatically, because we played very good all of the season, and everyone had been fantastic all of the season and we want to be promoted.

"And this is why God gave us the chance to go [to the] Premier League."


Divine intervention or not, Hull will indeed be back among the big time next season, and so will Elmohamady; though who he will be lining up for still remains to be seen.

The midfielder, whose tireless contribution was recently rewarded with the club's Player of the Year award, is still technically a Sunderland player.

And while nothing has been decided, the 25-year-old is yet to hold talks with new Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio and is quite clear about his preferred destination.

"I didn't speak with him [Di Canio] yet," Elmohamady said. "I didn't see him yet because my contract with Hull [is] until the end of June, and I don't know yet what is happening because my agent must still speak with both clubs.

"Hopefully it will be good things next year. I hope to stay with Hull and play with Brucey. I really enjoyed playing with Hull this year."

'Brucey' - or Steve Bruce, the Hull manager - was the man to finally bring Elmohamady to England from Egyptian club ENPPI while at Sunderland, following reported interest from clubs across Europe, including Blackburn and West Brom.

The midfielder, understandably, speaks highly of the former Manchester United centre-back, who he believes is well equipped to keep Hull in the Premier League.

He continued: "I think Hull have very good staff and very good players as well. Some players have been fantastic this year all season. They play very good football and have a fantastic manager.

"Steve Bruce is absolutely fantastic and he has good staff with him, and I think he will have experience to bring some more experienced players to the team and younger players as well.

"With Brucey, and with experienced players now, I think Hull can stay up and can [finish in] the top 10 as well."

Meanwhile, the manager of Elmohamady's parent club has seldom been out of the news since replacing Martin O'Neill at the Stadium of Light at the end of March.

Most recently, Di Canio has vowed to clamp down on the lack of fitness and ill discipline at Sunderland, fining seven players which has led to an investigation from the Professional Footballers' Association.

Having not experienced the wrath of the Italian first hand, Elmohamady is diplomatic in his views of the man who could still see him as part of his plans for next season.

"I just heard about it in the media, he said. "I think [when] Martin O'Neill was with the team he was a very good manager as well, played good football the season before and [with] a good side.

"But this year they change the manager, the manager [has] come and he wants to change a lot of things. This is a different manager. Different mentality, different character, everything different.

"He wants to change a lot of things because his rules are different - not like the manager before."

The journey from Egypt to the Premier League is one which has only been made by a handful of players in the past to varying degrees of success, most famously by Mido, Amir Zaki, Hossam Ghaly and Mohamed Shawky.

But while others have departed for Europe only to return shortly after, Elmohamady is determined to make his mark in England over the long haul.

He added: "I just concentrate on playing in England, the best league in the world, and I want to finish my career here in England because I look forward to doing something [that has] not happened before, for my history, for my career.

"I came here when I'm 22, nearly 23, and I want to finish [at] 35 or 40 here, to do something different."