Before he made it to the Egypt national team's provisional squad in December last year, not many football fans knew about Mohamed Nagy 'Gedo'. But after the three weeks of the Africa Cup of Nations extravaganza in Angola, Gedo’s name has been stuck on the lips of many after the 26 year-old Al Ittihad striker replaced Africa’s famous football names in the scoring rostrum to snatch the Golden Boot prize.
Nagy, whose nickname ‘Gedo’ means ‘grandpa’, emerged as the top scorer in the tournament with five goals but, more surprisingly, the attacking midfielder started all the matches from the bench.
If Gedo’s performance in the continental competition was a shock, his call to the Pharaohs' provisional squad was more of a surprise, even to the player, who had scored four goals in 12 appearances this season for his club. After receiving his call-up, he was quoted by Filgoal.com as saying: "I wasn’t expecting a call-up from the national team; no one has spoken to me before today.
"I learnt from the internet that my name is on the list! I am determined to prove my worth to the Egypt management and I hope to be an important player for the team."
He spoke in the spur of the moment, but Gedo was not just an important player for the team, but he made the difference in the few minutes he managed in all the six matches he played, including the final, in which Egypt were almost overwhelmed by a youthful Ghanaian team.
Gedo earned his place after impressing with a long-range winning goal in a pre-tournament friendly against Mali in Dubai on January 4. He came on as a substitute in that game. His case was made even more probable when a number of key Egyptian players missed out due to injuries or lack of match fitness, and when he came from the bench for his debut against Nigeria in the AFCON competition, he repaid the coach’s faith in him by powering a low drive past the Super Eagles keeper for Egypt's third goal.
In the next game against Mozambique he also came from the bench and within minutes registered with a wonderful flick and volley that sank the Mambas’ ambition of taking anything from the mighty Pharaohs. He didn’t score against Benin, but in the quarters against Cameroon he etched his name on the scoresheet during the 3-1 win. At the explosive semis, he also scored the last goal in the Pharaohs' 4-0 rout against arch-rivals Algeria.
With this melodramatic performance, the midfielder, who is of average build and height attained the mark of a star but it was in the final that Gedo truly earned the moniker as a legendary “supersub”. Before the match against the Ghanaian Black Stars, Gedo had predicted that the match would not be easy, indicating the way the Ghanaians had played with determination against tougher opponents in their previous matches.
Gedo's guess was correct with the Pharaohs failing to break the resilient Ghanaians until the Al Ittihad front man managed to squeeze a low strike past the line with less than five minutes of normal time remaining and, with that shot, Egypt won their unprecedented third title in a row and seventh in total.
Gedo started his career at Hosh Essa youth centre. When he was 17, he joined Ala’ab Damanhour, a small club in the Egyptian second division, before joining Al- Ittihad Al-Sakndary in 2005. Three years later, he extended his contract until 2012.
Gedo played for 173 minutes in the six matches in the tournament and scored five goals. Those who came second in the goal haul had netted three goals and they included his team-mate Ahmed Hassan, Angolan Flavio, Malian Seydou Keita and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan. Surprisingly, the four players played more minutes than Gedo and they all started in all the matches they played.
In a tournament that had African goal poachers like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Mohamed Zidan, Fredrick Kanoute, Yakubu, Martins and others, Gedo surpassed all benchmarks, assisted his team in making history and wrote his name in the sands of time.