A flash in the pan? A troublemaker who has found it difficult to settle? Evasive about Mido's past, the Tottenham coach, Martin Jol, said: "Mido's had a lot of clubs because he's so good. He's like Robbie Keane in that so many clubs want to sign him."
But why have so many clubs allowed Mido to move on? A record of 26 goals in 34 appearances for Egypt failed to establish him as a regular with Ghent, Ajax, Celta Vigo, Marseille and Roma from whom he has been taken on loan until the end of next season. "We've taken him on loan because you never know with young kids, and I don't want to talk about the possibility of signing him," Jol added. "But I know him and he's a terrific character, a sweet guy and, if I told you he was 25, you would believe me."
Whatever the truth about Mido, who is one of seven new arrivals at White Hart Lane as an investment for the future, he made a big impression, pleasing the home crowd not only with two well-taken goals, but audacious touches and the ability to bring others into play.
Built on the lines of former Tottenham favourite Martin Chivers, who was amongst the spectators, he fired in a raking 20-yarder that skimmed the bar after only three minutes. Then he almost set up Jermain Defoe with a mid-air flick through his legs that had the stadium buzzing.
On the eve of the game Mido declared himself unfit with a groin injury. Four hours before the game he came through a fitness test. Will he, won't he. It was up to Mido, who was persuaded to agree an extended loan after a conversation with Jol. "I followed my heart," Mido said. "It told me this is a good place, the right place to be and when I spoke with the coach he told me it will be a good place for me to work."
For a while Mido found it a hard place to work as Portsmouth weathered Tottenham's early assaults to take a surprise lead in the 28th minute when the most energetic of their midfielders, Diomansy Kamara, got his head to Patrick Berger's inswinging corner. Within five minutes Tottenham were level and Mido had made his mark.
Playing with his old verve, Simon Davies was given time to measure a centre from the right and delivered the ball perfectly for Mido to send a towering header beyond Kostas Chalkias.
Coming into the game just three points adrift of Tottenham, Portsmouth fancied their chances of taking something from the proceedings and Kamara had another effort ruled out for handball after his run had split the centre of Tottenham's defence shortly before half-time.
"Tottenham had plenty of possession," the Portsmouth coach, Joe Jordan, said, "but they didn't cause us many difficulties in the first half until we gave Davies too much time to get a cross in."
The second half was a different story. Defoe, under the scrutiny of the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, ahead of Wednesday's friendly against the Netherlands at Villa Park, began to utilise the full range of his talent and within eight minutes of the re-start he wriggled free on the goal line to find Mido with a low cross that the Egyptian swept past Chalkias.
Until then, little had been seen of another Tottenham debutant, Andy Reid whose pounds 4m transfer from Nottingham Forest had been completed during the transfer window. Looking overweight, struggling to come to terms with the pace of the Premiership, Reid seemed favourite to be replaced by fellow Republic of Ireland international Robbie Keane until Mido's groin strain caused him to limp off in the 63rd minute to a standing ovation.
At that point, Tottenham had two choices. Settle for their lead against a still dangerous Portsmouth or seek another goal. They attacked and gradually Reid came into the game. He was inches away from making a scoring debut with a low shot that rebounded off an upright, then set up the move from which Keane cleverly extended Tottenham's lead, lobbing Chalkias seven minutes from time.
Goals: Kamara (27) 0-1; Mido (33) 1-1; Mido (57) 2-1; Keane (83) 3-1.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Naybet (Bunjevcevic 84), King, Atouba; Davies, Carrick, Brown, Reid; Mido (Keane 63), Defoe. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Edman, Marney.
Portsmouth (4-5-1): Chalkias; Primus (Skopelitis 89), De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Taylor; O'Neill (Mazague 63), Cisse, Hughes, Berger (Fuller 62), Kamara; Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Rodic.
Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).
Man of the match: Mido.
Attendance: 36,105.Reuse content