Mido: One of football’s great enigmas

26. That’s how old Egyptian striker Mido is. 26. I couldn’t believe it. West Ham’s new signing, joining his 4th British club and 10th overall (meaning he’s been at a club a year since he was 16) is a relatively sprightly young thing compared to my assumption. The journeymen characters always strike me as older than they are presumably because they seem to have been around for so long, when in fact the opposite is true, they’ve never been around for very long anywhere. Especially Mido.

Mido is one of footballs great enigmas, because despite an obvious talent, he’s never really shown it in anything more than fits and starts. The amount of good clubs he’s played for, Ajax, Roma, Spurs etc, show that those in the know at the bigger teams in the bigger leagues, clearly recognize his worth. They all buy or loan him in the hope they’ll be club he finally clicks with, and yet as sure is eggs is eggs, he’s out of their door and into another like a WAG on a high street with money to burn. Even at international level, despite being one of Egypt’s most premier players, he’s been banned from playing for them twice already. There’s clearly something wrong here, and most likely with him. In fact his career path so far rather eerie resembles Eric Cantona’s (if you’re looking for parallels and are willing to squint a little) but unlike the Frenchman, also banned from his national team with a litter of former clubs by his mid-twenties, he’s yet to find the club that makes him happy. Maybe when he does, he’ll finally realize his potential, though it’s unlikely to be anything near as potent as King Eric’s.

It all started so promisingly for Mido who made his debut in the Egyptian leagues for Cairo based Zamalek when he was just 16. After scoring 3 goals in 4 games he immediately moved to Belgian club Gent where he won the bizarrely wonderful Belgian Ebony Shoe (for the highest scoring player of African descent in Belgium) in his first season. His meteoric rise continued as he was snapped up by Ajax in 2001, still in his teens and now on his 3rd club in 3 years. The trend was set, and sadly it continued. From Ajax he moved to Spain, then France, then Italy before finally arriving in the Premier League at Tottenham under Martin Jol. Still only 22, he scored twice on his debut and despite an injury setback enjoyed an impressive and relatively successful first season at White Hart Lane. He signed permanently with the club in 2006 and it finally seemed as if Mido had found his home in Spurs, and the Premier League, even saying as much in a gushing statement on the clubs website. But alas his demons re-emerged and his restles tendencies took hold, beginning with a fairly innocuous but rather unprofessional public statement about how easy it was to play against Sol Campbell (which, to be fair, wasn’t not true) for which he was reprimanded by Jol and frowned upon by people who sit in uncomfortable chairs on football programmes. He slipped down the pecking order at the Lane and eventually moved to Middlesbrough only a year later. Despite his stay on the Riverside his Spurs allegiances were still evident as he received a 3 match ban for kicking Arsenal’s Gael Clichy in the face. Injury and petulance ensured a rather sporadic spell at ‘Boro and when they were relegated he failed to turn up for pre-season training and was promptly fined by the club.

Still registered at the Riverside, West Ham will be his 3rd loan move from Teesside showing that despite all his flaws, they’re still reluctant to get rid of him (or of course that they’re desperately trying too but no one else will take him full time). A quick and occasionally mercurial finisher, his weight, form and temperament fluctuate so much as to make his form at any given time impossible to determine. His scoring record is also far lower than it should be, he’s a scorer of great goals not a great goal scorer as yet. He’s clearly a troubled soul on some level, but clearly a very good player on another, but while he continues to wander the earth in search of his soul club, the one he’s with are never more than 6 months away from being spurned.

I doubt he’ll find his calling at West Ham either as, as at Spurs, he’ll be one of many vying for a regular starting birth with Gianfranco Zola evidently forgetting there are any other positions in football during the January transfer window. Maybe he just needs to feel loved, but for the moment West Ham can only hope he’s got his game face on for the time he’s there, cos it may not be for long if history is anything to go by.

Mido’s Career in England

Tottenham – 61 Appearances; 19 Goals

Middlesbrough – 32 Appearances; 7 Goals

Wigan Athletic – 12 Appearances; 2 Goals

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