Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho heaped praise on Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, whom he managed at Chelsea, after the winger fired the Pharaohs to the next year’s World Cup after a 28-year absence.
Salah scored twice against Congo on Sunday, including a stoppage-time penalty, to give Egypt a precious win that lifted them through to the Russia finals with one match to spare in the qualifying GrouP E.
The Liverpool winger played under Mourinho, nicknamed the Special One, in 2014 when he joined Chelsea from Swiss side Basel in January of that year.
Despite a fine start, Salah fell out of favor with the Portuguese boss, playing only 530 minutes over the course of the year before being loaned out to Italian side Fiorentina.
“I’m not surprised with Salah’s performance this season,” Mourinho told BeIN Sports on Tuesday.
“I was aware of his great capabilities when he was with me at Chelsea. He improved during his spell at Italy, became more mature and improved physically.
“Players need time to adapt to their new teams. Some of them remain and others prefer to move to another club. It is normal in football.”
After his move to Italy, the Egyptian winger took the Serie A by storm, scoring 35 goals in 81 matches with Fiorentina and Roma.
He returned to the Premier League last summer after joining Liverpool, where he is a regular starter for Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Salah produced a string of fine displays, netting four goals in seven Premier League appearances so far.
He will have the chance to prove his worth to his former coach Mourinho when Liverpool host Manchester United in a Premier League game on Saturday.