As glorious as each goal that we racked up against Arsenal last weekend was, perhaps none was celebrated as exuberantly on the pitch or in the dugout as our sixth and final strike on that afternoon of devastating attacking play. Mohamed Salah, our January recruit from Basel, was the man mobbed by his teammates after calmly stroking the ball under the advancing Wojciech Szczesny. The Egyptian’s first Chelsea goal was also rapturously received by Jose Mourinho, the man who had brought him to west London.
‘It’s very important for me and it’s great for my confidence,’ Salah tells the official Chelsea website. ‘It was very nice to see the reaction of my teammates when I scored. They have really helped me settle in.’
Proof of that welcome arrives almost instantly when David Luiz turns up at our Cobham training ground and immediately greets his newest teammate in Arabic, Salah’s native tongue. He returns the greeting in Portuguese as the two embrace.
Naturally, moving mid-season to a new country and a new league presents challenges of adaption on and off the pitch. The 21-year-old explains what he has discovered in the two months since joining the Blues.
‘Here in England it’s very different to playing in Switzerland,’ he considers. ‘It’s the best league in the world and it’s more difficult here because every player is so strong and aggressive. The games are quicker, too. You have to concentrate very hard before every game, even the day or two days before, because every match is so difficult.
‘I have already learned a lot from the players we have here. We have many good players in the team. There are also a lot of young players so we are able to learn from each other and that is very helpful.’
Salah speaks in English and he says it is improving all the time, though he admits getting around in the city he now calls home is not such a fast-moving process.
‘I live in London about five minutes from Stamford Bridge. I try to go outside every day but the traffic is terrible! It’s a great city though and I’m enjoying it here.’
Following the victory over Arsenal, and in the wake of his maiden goal, Mourinho discussed Salah’s progress and stressed that, as a result of coming from a ‘different environment and culture’, the winger’s importance to the squad would likely be more keenly-felt next season. The Egyptian nods in agreement.
‘I hope to play some more matches but I know now it’s difficult because I came in winter. Also, I’m now at one of the best clubs in the world. It’s not easy to play because all of our players are very, very good.
‘We are first in the league so it is not easy to go directly into the team and play every game. I will try to play and now I have one goal I would like to score some more – that is what everybody wants!’