Meet the Mohamed Salah of squash who has opted for England over Egypt – The Telegraph
We now know the reason for his “personal and emotional” toil. “When England Squash approached me I wasn’t playing a very good season, but they believed in me,” El Shorbagy admits. “England has done so much for me since I was 15, helped me with visas and staying in the country.”
A hard-hitting, charismatic player, El Shorbagy says he wants to spend the rest of his life in Bristol. “Life is so simple and it’s home for me,” he admits.
This is in sharp contrast to the problems he has faced in his homeland. El Shorbagy last played team events for Egypt in 2011 after he was dropped for the World Team Championships final against England. He claims to be the only top player not sponsored or funded in recent years by Egyptian bank CIB, one of the biggest investors in squash.
“People who are close to me and have seen my journey in Egypt know exactly all the politics I have been through,” he adds. “The important thing was not to make the decision out of anger. The people in Egypt have nothing to do with the decision, I made it because of what was better for me and I didn’t have the support that I wanted.
‘I made the decision to play for a country who gave me a home’
“I’m the only player, when you go to Egypt, without a picture at the airport. It did hurt me, but I made the decision to play for a country who gave me a home.”
In 2020, El Shorbagy had been under the threat of compulsory military service or a hefty fine if he had entered Egypt before he was 30. He has since played events in Egypt this season with no issues, the Professional Squash Association confirmed.
El Shorbagy now wants to help the next generation of talent after witnessing the garlanded careers of Nick Matthew and James Willstrop. There are currently no English male players in the top 20, while six Egyptians are in the top 10. At 31, El Shorbagy will also receive some of the best back-up support in the game.
“I grew up with Nick, James and six players inside the top 20,” says El Shorbagy. “I became their rival and saw how much support they got throughout their career. It is a dream of any professional athlete.
“England also has a long history in the sport, there are players of great potential and I’d like to get that winning culture back.”
El Shorbagy received his British citizenship in February, the agreement in place during last month’s World Championship where he finished runner-up. He was placed as top seed in the British National Squash Championships and duly claimed his first title on Saturday in Manchester, while the decision was taken not to consider him for this summer’s Commonwealth Games.