Skip to content

Bob Bradley goes to Egypt

May 17, 2012, 2:29 PM EDT

Egypt's head coach Bob Bradley of the U.S. reacts during their friendly soccer match against RD Congo in Doha Reuters

That Bob Bradley is coaching the Egyptian national team is not news. That the team, the country, and the coach have been through a lot recently is also not news. But man, this piece by Wayne Drehs in ESPN The Magazine’s International Soccer issue really puts it all in perspective.

The story centers around the former United States coach’s relationship with Egyptian star Mohamed Aboutrika, “an aging superstar who commands respect, a hero to fans.” The “Smiling Assassin,” a key figure in the Port Siad tragedy, is nearing the end of his career. The American must decide whether to include the attacking force on the roster for an upcoming friendly.

Bradley leaves him off:

Aboutrika is crushed. He had dreamed of taking his country to the World Cup, and 2014 likely will be his last chance. He spends the first day after the news alone, fishing. The next day, when he emerges and the media shove cameras and tape recorders in his face, he praises Bradley and insists it is on himself to improve.

But in the days and weeks that follow, Bradley begins to second-guess his decision. He listens as other players gush about Aboutrika’s leadership. He walks the streets of Cairo, where nearly every fan he meets, from taxi drivers to schoolchildren, pleads with him: “Aboutrika! Aboutrika! Must have Aboutrika!” During this stretch, Aboutrika’s play improves. Seven days after New Year’s, he comes on at the half of an Al Ahly match against German giant Bayern Munich and slices a pass through a trio of defenders that sets up an equalizing goal. The more Bradley considers it, the more he believes he has made a mistake.

On the evening of Feb. 1, Bradley sits before the television in his Cairo apartment to watch Al Ahly’s match against Al Masry in Port Said. He keeps an eye on Aboutrika; Bradley plans to meet him in the coming days to talk about the national team.

Disaster strikes that game, dramatically altering the lives of two men and the country they call home. What follows is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, and Drehs expertly chronicles the narrative.

But enough from me. Just go read it. (And there’s also another massively long feature from Drehs.)

Latest Posts
  1. Manchester City friendly vs. Houston Dynamo in doubt following deadly floods

    May 27, 2015, 7:52 AM EDT

    US-WEATHER-FLOOD US-WEATHER-FLOOD

    Texas has been hit with massive flooding that has left at least 19 dead, as soccer takes a backseat.

  2. FBI, US Department of Justice issues damning statement on FIFA, details corruption investigation

    May 27, 2015, 6:55 AM EDT

    Loretta Lynch, Vanita Gupta, Ron Davis Loretta Lynch, Vanita Gupta, Ron Davis

    Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch speaks about the FBI’s investigation into widespread allegations of corruption at FIFA.

  3. Nine FIFA officials, including CONCACAF president, arrested in Switzerland during dawn raids

    May 27, 2015, 5:20 AM EDT

    65th FIFA Congress Previews 65th FIFA Congress Previews

    FIFA officials from CONCACAF region and South America dominate the FBI’s wanted list.

  4. Report: Multiple FIFA officials arrested in Zurich, will be extradited to United States

    May 27, 2015, 12:44 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    An unprecedented blow to the upper tier of FIFA’s personnel structure could be the beginning of a sweeping takedown of the organization’s corrupt inner workings.

  5. Aguero, Toure, Nasri, Silva among Manchester City’s roster for Toronto FC friendly

    May 26, 2015, 11:17 PM EDT

    Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates his second goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester Reuters

    Toronto FC has put a “projected Starting XI” on Twitter, one that includes Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco.

  6. Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup: Several linked with Manchester United, Liverpool, Newcastle

    May 26, 2015, 10:28 PM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Well, the Premier League season has been over for a solid 59 hours, and we shouldn’t let it get to 60 without digging through the muck that is the transfer rumor mill.

  7. There has been an Oguchi Onyewu sighting at New York City FC training

    May 26, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    LARNACA, CYPRUS - MARCH 05:  Oguchi Onyewu (R) of the USA in action during the Ukraine v USA International Friendly  at Antonis Papadopoulos stadium on March 5, 2014 in Larnaca, Cyprus.  (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images) Getty Images

    All-in-all, he’s played for 11 clubs — four on loan — and only one for more than 30 matches (Standard Liege).

  8. Mourinho rips Top 4 rivals at awards dinner; Takes extra shot at Wenger’s Arsenal

    May 26, 2015, 8:36 PM EDT

    WengerMourinho AP

    He finished off the speech with a brilliant line regarding Chelsea, “They played from August till May and sometimes they brought the bus.”

  9. Real Madrid declines purchase option on Chicharito, who heads back to Manchester United

    May 26, 2015, 7:47 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    Chicharito’s career will make an interesting case study when all’s said and done.

  10. Ireland FA chief: “We won’t be voting” for Sepp Blatter

    May 26, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter AP

    “Surely he knows … that outside of the voting chambers, that the world … the players and supporters, want change,” Delaney said.

  11. Loew to rest Neuer, Muller for friendly vs. USMNT, Euro qualifier vs. Gibraltar

    May 26, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (L) and forward Thomas Muller give a press conference in Porto on April14, 2015, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League quarter finals football match FC Porto vs FC Bayern Munich. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO LEONG        (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The USMNT faces Germany on June 10 in Cologne after a June 5 date at Amsterdam Arena against the Netherlands.

  12. Ten best young ‘newcomers’ of the 2014-15 Premier League season

    May 26, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Can gave Liverpool an early lead but they collapsed. Can gave Liverpool an early lead but they collapsed.

    A great deal of clubs can find young talent on our list, as the 2014-15 season review continues.

  13. Reports: Napoli will announce Rafa Benitez departure Thursday; Headed for Real Madrid

    May 26, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    VERONA, ITALY - MARCH 15:  Head coach  of SSC Napoli Rafa Benitez looks on  during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona FC and SSC Napoli at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on March 15, 2015 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Napoli finished fourth in Serie A, and made it to the Europa League semifinal before being bounced by Dnipro.

  14. The Premier League’s top and bottom transfers of the season

    May 26, 2015, 3:41 PM EDT

    Arsenal FC v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    This list will tend to include more high-profile names than low-risk moves that didn’t pan out.

  15. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week – Round 38

    May 26, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT

    Find out which 11 players shone during the final matchday of the 2014-15 PL season.

  16. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Round 38

    May 26, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT

    Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

    A hat trick hero finished the season off in style. Find out who was the best in the PL during the final week of the season.

  17. Premier League Playback: Looking back at a memorable 2014-15 season

    May 26, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor reflects on another action-packed PL season.

  18. West Ham awarded Europa League spot via Fair Play rankings

    May 26, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWIzNjEyZjUwZDc4ZmQzZDA4NzM5NWMyMzFiMjMxN2Nh Getty Images

    West Ham’s 2015-16 season will now kick off on July 2.

Featured video

Chelsea lift the 2014-15 PL trophy