Zamalek have agreed to send their star winger Mahmoud “Shikabala” Abdel-Razeq out on loan for one season to Greek club Apollon Smyrni F.C, according to an official statement by the Cairo giants on Tuesday.
“The board headed by Mortada Mansour has already signed the contract of Shikabala’s loan deal to Apollon for one year,” read a statement on Zamalek’s official website.
The future of the 32-year-old came under intense speculation after he was deemed surplus to requirements at the club. He was part of Egypt’s squad for the World Cup in Russia but did not make any appearances.
His professionalism was also questioned by Zamalek’s chairman Mortada Mansour, who accused Shikabala of late return to the club after the World Cup.
“The player will sign a new contract with Zamalek before going out on loan,” the football team supervisor Amir Mortada, the son of the chairman, said.
The speedy winger Shikabala, who made his debut with Zamalek in 2001 at the age of 16, is blessed with incredible ball control and dribbling skills, plus a powerful left foot that often left defenders and goalkeepers bamboozled.
Seventeen years later, Shikabala’s journey with the national team has not left a mark, despite his potential. He has only managed to play 31 games for Egypt, winning the African Cup of Nations title in 2010 albeit without making a major impact.
Probably one of the most wasted Egyptian talents, he also didn’t play a minute in this year’s World Cup, Egypt’s first time in the tournament since 1990.
His long career has also been marred by disciplinary problems and personal troubles, despite having the chance to shine early in his career with some European clubs such as PAOK and Sporting Lisbon.
But recently, he has managed to redeem himself with some fine displays with Saudi team Al-Raed, and an experienced Shikabala earned back his place in the Egypt squad after almost three years of absence.
He got his first international cap under coach Hector Cuper last November for a World Cup qualifying clash at Ghana, scoring Egypt’s only goal as the already-qualified side held the hosts to a 1-1 draw.
Shikabala had an impressive stint last season with Al-Raed, scoring nine league goals and providing four assists.
Apollon Smyrni F.C ended the Greek league last season in the 14th place; escaping relegation to the second division.
Shikabala will be the third Egyptian player in the Greek league along with PAOK FC’s midfielder Amr Warda and former Zamalek teammate Basem Morsi, who currently plays on loan for AEL club.