Africa hasn’t been this excited since the Obama years

Mo Salah.

Move over Obamamania. It’s Mo Salah mania and from Kigali to Nairobi to Lagos and beyond, it’s the 27-year-old on every football fan’s mind and while we’re happy to see the likes of DR Congo’s Yannick Bolasie, Kenya’s Victor Wanyama, Senegal’s Sadio Mané and Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez, Salah is the star everyone’s clamouring for.

No telling how far the hosts will go this 32nd edition of Afcon but so far, the Egyptian king hasn’t disappointed, having scored his first goal against DR Congo last week and God knows how many kids around the continent he inspired to chase their own dreams with that goal alone. Africa couldn’t ask for a better role model for the next generation of stars!

The two-time BBC African Player of the Year and Champions League winner had already won our hearts with his impeccable form but his compassion and humility make him even more endearing.

Aside from using his wealth to support various charities, pay for children’s surgeries and feed communities as he did this last Ramadan, he’s also an advocate of women’s rights and empowerment, and has been quoted urging men in the Muslim world to treat women better and show them more respect.

No wonder he made the 2019 TIME 100 list of most influential people! By his own admission, he’s a family man and prefers staying home to going out and that’s probably why you won’t see pictures of him falling out of clubs with a different woman every other night.

His own mother berated him for hugging a female fan and if that’s all he’s guilty of, he clearly hasn’t let all the fame and money get to his head! And can we talk about Mohamed Salah’s relationship with his adorable 5 year old daughter, Makka?

She’s clearly her father’s daughter and judging by Salah’s smile watching her with the ball, you get the sense that he’s not just a good father but one who would be supportive were she to pursue her own soccer dream 10 or so years from now.

Wouldn’t be surprised if after he retires, we’re treated to father-daughter training sessions or just Salah cheering for her in the stands!

Speaking of children, I bet you variations of Mohamed Salah are finding their way onto birth certificates as we speak, much like Barack Obama was a popular baby name at the peak of his popularity and while I’ve scoffed at parents who saddle their kids with celebrity names in the past, I’m flirting with the idea of my own little Mo Salah running around the house and if you’re too, don’t be so hard on yourself!

We celebrate all kinds of things and what better way to honour this icon and his achievements thus far than a Mo Salah Day! June 15th which also happens to be his birthday would be ideal, don’t you think?

Also ideal would be cashing in while we can. Mugs, scarves, key chains and related memorabilia bearing his beaming face are selling out and I’m beating myself up for sleeping on the opportunity.

On second thoughts, I’m glad I didn’t. How can you take advantage of such a genuine, unconceited person!