Mohamed Salah, at just the age of 25, has seen a meteoric rise to superstardom in the recent years, even playing in one of the biggest stages of world football that is the Champions League Finals. He is now heralded as one of the greatest forwards of the modern game and has been an integral cog in Liverpool’s journey to Kiev, Moscow, where the Champions League Finals was held on May 27th. Although he was substituted off at the 30th minute with a dislocated shoulder after a challenge by Sergio Ramos, a Real Madrid defender, he was met with a thunderous applause upon his exit.

But things weren’t always so bright for his career. Salah was not always such an heralded prospect, and he had his humble beginnings.

Salah’s road to stardom started when he was 14, when he was just a young boy with big dreams. From a heavily impoverished background, Salah used to travel 10 hours to his youth club training grounds in Cairo every day just to have a chance to train from his small village of Nagrig, Egypt. When he arrived, he trained so hard every day that he didn’t even have a chance to make friends, as he had to catch the bus immediately after his training. Being the third-choice left back in the team and mockery over his impoverished background fueled his passion for football, which is what helped become a great footballer he is today. He was one of the most determined young individuals in the world, and strived to follow in the footsteps of some of Africa’s great players like Mohamed Abu Trika, a legendary Egyptian forward. Abu Trika was considered to be the best player during Egypt’s greatest generation and even won Africa Best Player of the Year award four times and led his nation to two Africa Cup of Nations triumphs. You can even see some of Abu Trika’s best qualities in Salah’s football, like his flair and his impeccable dribbling on the field.

From playing in the Egyptian Leagues, he transferred to FC Basel, a Swiss team, after catching the scout’s eye for his mature and determined performances in the 2012 London Olympic Games. He flourished as a winger there within European competition, which was what Salah always wanted. Then came his biggest chance yet in 2014: a transfer to English powerhouse Chelsea. Here, Chelsea won out on the transfer battle against Liverpool, Salah’s current side. However, the move to Stamford Bridge proved to be a tough one, and he was constantly sent on loans without being given a chance to showcase his talents in the first team. However, upon his loans to Fiorentina and Roma in Italy, he slowly again began to build his case as one of the premier forwards of Europe. After his stellar performance in the Roma loan, he completed a complete transfer away from there, and subsequently had his best season yet there, finding the net 19 times in 41 appearances. By the summer after, Salah was receiving love calls from the best sides in Europe, which he chose Liverpool from. He scored on his Liverpool debut at Watford, and the rest is history, scoring 43 goals in 47 appearances and leading the underperforming Liverpool squad to the Champions League finals, the biggest stage in world football.

From his performances from Liverpool, he cemented his cult hero status among Egyptians and became a national hero. Awed by Salah’s performances, Mohammed Abbas, the former Egyptian president of Zamalek, one of Egypt’s biggest clubs, granted him his wish for the donation to be made to his hometime of Nagrig, which was a huge factor in bringing the town out of deprivation.

Perhaps Salah should not only be praised for his performances, but his social contributions as well. He has given an enormous amount of money back to his home country Egypt, as a man who has not forgotten his roots in the face of fame and fortune. This further adds to the already illustrious legacy of the “Egyptian Messi”, who now has nowhere to go but up for his career at such a young age.