In the summer of 2008 Wigan Athletic caused a near sensation by capturing the signature, albeit on a yearlong loan, of Egyptian superstar and candidate for Africa footballer of the year Amr Zaki.
If we thought the 26 year old striker arrived in a blaze of headlines we were in for a treat in the next three months as we saw Zaki catapult the Latics to the number one watched Premier League side in the Arab world, smashing goals in for fun, Zaki looked for all intents and purposes the real deal, in the first 19 games of the 2008/09 season he grabbed 10 goals.
Unfortunately for both the Latics and the player the goals dried up, quickly, Zaki visibly lost confidence on the pitch, off the pitch tales of unrest, going AWOL and arrogance grew, from being the first name on then boss Steve Bruce’s team sheet, the main man found himself confined to the bench on match days making cameo appearances at best.
At the end of the 2008/09 season, despite the Latics having an option to buy, Zaki returned home to Egypt and his parent club Zamalek, he made a brief return to the Premier League with Hull City, turning out on six occasions for the Tigers but not managing to score.
Zaki has returned to Egypt and he is still with Zamalek, last season he played 12 games scoring 3 goals having a season blighted by injury, he is still courting controversy though with reports of arguments with fans hitting the press, oh what could have been.
He is still regarded as the best ever Latics striker by some and back in Egypt he is still adored by his faithful for his time spent in the English Premier League, on a recent holiday to Egypt Vital member, Exploddy, came across a Zaki fan who wouldn’t have a bad word said against his hero.
Photo’s courtesy of Peter Harmer
Latics and Proud
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