Skip to content

Filmmaker Hossam Aboul-Magd discusses ‘Bob Bradley: American Pharoah’

Jul 1, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT

Bradley

As Hossam Aboul-Magd knows all too well, sometimes ‘The Beautiful Game’ can feel like a misnomer of titanic proportions.

That was the case on February 1, 2012, when violence erupted in the Egyptian city of Port-Said and 74 football fans were killed. It was a day Aboul-Magd, an Egyptian filmmaker, calls “terrifying and depressing.”

It was also the day Aboul-Magd arrived in Cairo to begin filming his documentary, “American Pharoah: Bob Bradley and the Egyptian Soccer Team, the Inside Story.”

The documentary, set to be released in January 2014, follows former U.S. Men’s National Team coach, Bob Bradley, as he manages the Egyptian Men’s National Team through the World Cup qualifying process in Africa. The film provides unprecedented access and behind-the-scenes coverage of Bob and his wife, Lindsay, as they adjust to life in Egypt and the country finds its identity following a heated political revolution.

It was a project that came naturally to Aboul-Magd. As a self-described “crazy football fan,” a massive supporter of the Egyptian Men’s National Team and a long-time admirer of Bradley, the 41 year old jumped at the opportunity to tell this story.

From his home in Washington D.C., Aboul-Magd reached out to Michael Kammerman, media coordinator for the U.S. Men’s National Team, who put the filmmaker in touch with Bradley. The first time Aboul-Magd spoke to Bradley it was around Christmas, 2011, and the two discussed the project for nearly an hour.

Ever the pragmatist, Bradley had done his homework on Aboul-Magd and had plenty of questions and concerns about the project. The political, social and financial obstacles around the documentary were numerous. Yet Bradley wanted the film to be made and for Aboul-Magd to tell the story.

And so, in the face of tragedy and peril, Aboul-Magd set out to capture what it has been like for the Bradley family and the nation of Egypt during this time of change. Directing, producing, shooting and doing the sound all by himself, Aboul-Magd is a one man field crew who strives for intimacy by not imposing himself on the characters. “It is super important to make the staff and players feel they can trust me, and I believe they do,” the filmmaker said.

Before beginning the project, Aboul-Magd always thought Bradley was an amazing character. But the more he films Bradley, the deeper his respect and admiration grows for the coach. “I have no issues saying that I’m biased towards the Bradley’s,”  Aboul-Magd admits. “Bob and Lindsay are one of the nicest, kindest and most sincere couple I ever met.”

Not only are Bradley and his team facing qualification amidst the rebuilding of Egyptian democracy, Aboul-Magd noted, but they are doing so “despite not being paid, not playing in front of their fans [and] not getting any support from the government.” This kind of sacrifice has made Bradley’s presence in Egypt larger than life.

He is a celebrity not only because he is the manager of the national team but because of the humanitarian and charity work he does all over Egypt. “It’s very normal to hear locals calling him ‘an Egyptian like us,'” says Aboul-Magd. “During one of the film’s interviews, one Egyptian journalist told me ‘I hope Egyptians love Egypt the same way Bob Bradley loves Egypt’,” he explains. “It tells you a lot about the man.”

The story is not only incredible because of the conditions in Egypt but because The Pharoah‘s are through to the final round of 2014 World Cup qualifying in Africa after securing a 1-0 victory over Mozambique on June 16th. The victory ensures that Egypt will be one of the ten nations through to this fall’s African play-offs for Brazil 2014. If they succeed in advancing to Brazil it will be the first time Egypt has qualified for the World Cup since 1990.

The national team’s success, Aboul-Magd explains, is largely due to Bradley’s influence on the side’s style of play. Before the American coach arrived, Egypt used to play a more Latin American style. Now, the team has become a lot tougher, has incredible stamina and possesses a winning mentality.

To any American soccer fan, this is hardly surprising.

Aboul-Magd will continue to follow The Pharoah’s through next fall’s African play-offs, at which point he and his off-field crew will finish up post-production of the film and send it to the Sundance Film Festival. The film will also feature on PBS, the network that commissioned the research and development of the project, as well as helped fund it.

How the story ends, only time will tell.

For Aboul-Magd, the goal is not to reach the World Cup but to provide a vehicle that exposes how one man has managed to change the mentalities of the Egyptian players and people alike.

Executive Producer: Charles Stuart

Producer/Writer: Sandy Petrykowski

Editor: Lesly Kubistal

Latest Posts
  1. Phillip Lahm: Real Madrid the “team to beat” in Champions League

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:58 PM EDT

    Czech Republic Soccer Champions League AP

    Phillip Lahm sees Real Madrid as the Champions League favorites.

  2. WATCH: Premier League Sunday recap of Manchester United downing QPR

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Manchester United blanked QPR, 4-0, in the only match that Premier League match that occurred on Sunday.

  3. Philippe Coutinho open to an extension at Liverpool

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Philippe Coutinho said that he would entertain an extension at Liverpool

  4. Jeremy Menez shines for AC Milan in riveting victory over Parma

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT

    Jeremy+Menez+qojlhLjziL0m Getty Images

    Jeremy Menez tallied a brace and a spectacular goal as AC Milan edged Parma in a high-scoring affair.

  5. WATCH: FC Dallas striker Blas Perez nails very steep-angled goal

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    blas_perez Getty Images

    A very tough goal scored by FC Dallas striker Blas Perez from an MLS match last night.

  6. President Obama follows through on World Cup beer bet

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:34 PM EDT

    Barack Obama AP

    President Obama sent the Belgian embassy a pack of beer after he lost a World Cup bet on Twitter.

  7. Cristiano Ronaldo could demand $813,225-per-week to make La Liga exit

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Ronaldo may eye a even bigger contract at the end of this season, but not at Real Madrid.

  8. WATCH: New stars show up for Man United in first test

    Sep 14, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    NBC’s Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino discuss the performances of Manchester United’s new players in a 4-0 drubbing of QPR.

  9. Casillas: Real Madrid fans ‘entitled to complain’ after Atletico loss

    Sep 14, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Goalkeeper Iker Casillas wasn’t opposed to fans whistling at him during Real Madrid’s match vs. Atletico Madrid.

  10. WATCH: Louis van Gaal urges Manchester United to “make a new start” after QPR win

    Sep 14, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    VanGaal Getty Images

    After a comprehensive 90 minutes for their first win of the year, van Gaal is bullish on the Red Devils’ chances going forward.

  11. Report: Alan Pardew has one game to save his job

    Sep 14, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

    Pardew Getty Images

    With Newcastle’s managerial situation deteriorating rapidly, there is one week to turn things around.

  12. WATCH: Manchester United honor 12-year Old Trafford vet Rio Ferdinand before QPR match

    Sep 14, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

    Ferdinand Getty Images

    After 450 matches for Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand returned to Old Trafford on the opposing end for the first time.

  13. Julian Green starts for Hamburg in first Bundesliga appearance

    Sep 14, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

    Green AP

    The Bayern Munich loanee makes his professional league debut.

  14. WATCH: Angel Di Maria opens his Manchester United scoring account for 1-0 lead over QPR

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT

    DiMaria Getty Images

    It’s the first goal of his Premier League career for the $99 million man.

  15. Watch Live: Manchester United vs QPR (Lineups)

    Sep 14, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Falcao is not in the starting lineup in his first Manchester United game available for selection.

  16. French report says Mathieu Debuchy out for two months

    Sep 14, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Early estimates have Debuchy missing crucial Premier League matches against Chelsea as well as the North London derby.

  17. Reports say Alan Pardew on thin ice as Newcastle front office eyes Hull’s Steve Bruce

    Sep 14, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT

    PardewOut Getty Images

    Time could be up on Alan Pardew’s up and down tenure at Newcastle United.

  18. Injury plagued Holger Badstuber needs surgery again

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:34 AM EDT

    Badstuber

    A thigh tear will mean the man who missed two years with an ACL tear will yet again see the sidelines for an extended period of time.

Featured video

Week 4: Saturday recap