CAIRO: Ever since he was a child, he was determined to follow his dream, to become a player in the national soccer team and to guide Egypt to victory on the international level. It was during this year’s African Cup of Nations in Ghana that Zidan realized his dream.
“My long-awaited dream has finally come true, Zidan told Daily News Egypt. The 27-year-old offensive midfielder who plays for Hamburg SV in Germany was very keen to compensate for missing out on the 2006 African Cup of Nations due to an injury prior to the tournament.
“It was a pity to miss out on the action, instead of being in the pitch I sat infront of the television and cheered the national team up till the end, Zidan said.
“I still remember that while watching the medal ceremony, I promised myself to be part of the team in the 2008 African Cup of Nations, Zidan added.
Zidan, who started his professional football career in Denmark at the age of 17, said that the team spirit alongside the positive mindset inspired by Head Coach Hassan Shehata has played a key role in retaining the African Cup.
“We were all inspired by Captain Hassan’s positive mindset throughout the tournament, he definitely empowered our self-belief as well as our sense of being united together for one goal, retaining the cup for Egypt, Zidan said.
On a broader prospective, Zidan pointed out that the substitute players didn’t have any negative feelings toward those in the regular line-up, instead they would come together and celebrate alongside the goal scorer.
Zidan, who prior to the African Cup of Nations had taken part in 10 international games for the national team, has also referred to his team mates’ enormous support as a major factor behind unleashing his extraordinary skills.
“The words of Captain Ahmed Hassan prior to the opening game against Cameroon, in which I scored two goals, still ring in my ears. He came up to me and told me, ‘Zidan, you’re the one who is capable of making the difference for Egypt today.’ When a veteran player such as Ahmed Hassan tells you those words, then nothing can stop you from putting on your best show in the pitch, Zidan said.
“It was the same positive feeling I felt in the final, I was on the substitute bench and when I played during the second half, I recalled the words of Ahmed Hassan, minutes later, I chased Cameroon’s Captain Rigobert Song on the ball, and I kept telling myself you can beat him, you can beat him, until I managed to gain possession of the ball to pass it to Mohamed Abou Trika who scored the decisive goal to crown Egypt as the African Champion for the second consecutive time, Zidan added.
Zidan made sure the spot light was still on him, even after scoring the goals.
Zidan was told by the brand that provided his shoes to put on an innovative celebration once he scores a goal, which was the case against Cameroon in the opening game. “I took off my shoe and started to juggle it around. Then it was picked up by fellow teammate Mohamed Shawky.
Zidan vows to do his best to help guide Egypt to the next World Cup for the first time since 1990. He strongly believes the current generation can succeed in what many generations have failed to deliver.
“I will do all it takes to help Egypt reach the 2010 World Cup. I believe that under the command of Captain Hassan Shehata, the current generation of players qualify for the upcoming World Cup. We’re currently the best team in the continent and we’ve proven this throughout the last two years. No one can stop us from achieving our dream, Zidan said.