Many Egyptians still recall Magdi Abdelghani’s goal from a penalty kick against the Dutch team in the 1990 World Cup. This episode is recalled with a mix of sorrow and sarcasm. When an important event happens in Egypt, some people sarcastically say: “This should certainly not make us forget Magdi Abdelghani’s goal during the World Cup.”
However, history features another Egyptian who scored at the World Cup. In fact, he was the first Egyptian, Arab, and African to ever score. And he scored not only one, but two goals.
The story of Egyptian striker Abdelrahman Fawzi
According to the Port Said History website, Fawzi was born in the city of Port Said on the 25th of May 1911. He started playing football at the city's elementary school, where he joined the Nile team for 3 years. Fawzi led the team against other schools before moving to high school and starting a team with the same name. The new team was for students from all ages and schools. Two years later, it achieved a good reputation and was able to provide players for other teams as well.
In 1924, Fawzi joined Al-Shubban then Port Said’s Al-Masry football club. With his extraordinary speed and skills he became one of the most important players of his generation.
Few know that the star from Port Said even played one seasons with Al-Ahly in Cairo. The Cairene club tried to sign him in after he scored a goal in their net from a long distance free kick. Mostafa Kamel Mansour, Al-Ahly’s goalkeeper, finally succeeded in convincing him to move from Port Said to Cairo. Fawzi agreed to play for Al-Ahly during the 1932 season but then returned to Al-Masry after big disagreements erupted between the two teams.
Fawzi was known for his powerful shots which he trained for individually before the games by placing a ball in a pond for hours and then taking it out when it is was twice the weight of an official ball. He would then train with these heavy balls to strengthen his leg muscles so that when he would use regular balls, they would seem extremely light. This helped him score many goals.
Making football history
In 1934 he joined the Egyptian national team during the World Cup qualifiers and then went on to play the World Cup with the famous Scottish coach James McCrae.
Fawzy was by far the reason for his team’s qualification to the World Cup in 1934 in Italy. Egypt played against Palestine during the qualifier rounds and managed to win 7-1 in Cairo and 4-1 in Jerusalem with Fawzi scoring all 11 goals!
On the 27th of May 1934, Egypt played its first match against the strong Hungarian team in Napoli, Italy. This will be a day that Egyptian football fans will remember.
The Egyptian team at the time included in addition to Abdelrahman Fawzi, Mostafa Kamel Mansour, Ali El Kaf, Hamidu Charlie, Hassan El Far, Ismail Rafaat, Hassan Raghab, Mohamed Latif, Mahmoud 'El-Tetsh' Mokhtar, Mostafa Kamel Taha, and Mohammad Hassan.
Hungary’s Pál Teleki scored on the seventh minute of the match, and in minute 31, Géza Toldi scored again. But the Egyptian team quickly responded with a goal by Abdelrahman Fawzi in minute 35. The equalizer came soon after when Fawzi surprised everyone by scoring again in minute 39 to end the first half with a score of 2 -2.
During the second half, Hungary was pressing much stronger on the offense and succeeded in scoring two more goals ending the game with a score of 4 -2.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6hOmLDPPUMM
This meant that the Egyptian team was out since at the time the loosing team was disqualified. However, it should be noted that Fawzi managed to score a third goal after dribbling his way through the Hungarian players but the Italian referee Rinaldo called offside to the surprise of 9000 spectators.
Even though the Egyptian team was out of the championship, Fawzi was chosen by the jury to be part of the World Cup dream team, filling the position of the best left winger.
After the World Cup, Fawzy transferred to Al-Mokhtalat in 1935, which later changed its name to Farouk, and then became the famous Al-Zamalek FC. He would play for the team until he retired in 1947 to become a coach, working for Farouk club (Al-Zamalek) between 1947 and 1956.
Fawzi then took over the coaching of the national Egyptian team for a few months, before he went on to coach Ghazl Al-Mahalla. He then will leave Egypt altogether to become the coach of the Saudi national team between 1957 and 1962. Following this episode he came back to his home country and took over coaching Al-Sikka Al-Hadid club until 1975.
Abdelarahman Fawzi passed away on the 16th of October 1989, at the age of 78 after a long and rich life full of achievements.