FA Cup final: Hull's Ahmed Elmohamady flying flag for Egypt

The 27-year-old wing-back expects millions back home to watch him make history next weekend

Asked to guess how many of his compatriots will be watching next Saturday's FA Cup final, Ahmed Elmohamady smiles. "Eight million? Ten? Maybe more, I don't know. After all, there are a lot of Arsenal fans in Egypt too."

The 27-year-old Hull City wing-back smiles, well aware the vast majority will be tuning in to watch him, the first Egyptian to play in the final of the world's oldest domestic Cup competition. Elmohamady acknowledges his country, still racked by political turmoil, will be very much on his mind when he walks out at Wembley against Arsenal.

"I think about what is happening [in Egypt] a lot, though every Egyptian who is away will be the same. When you are here, in another country, and some of your family is there, of course you worry about it, about them and your friends.

FOLLOW ALL TODAY'S PREMIER LEAGUE ACTION WITH OUR LIVE BLOG HERE

"But I am just a footballer. All I can really do is work hard and make people proud, so people from other countries think when you are from Egypt you work hard and do your best, always. That is very important to me. When it is hard at home, in your country, these things push you harder, to be a success and make your country proud, to make your family proud."

Such is even more the case after Egypt's failure to qualify for this summer's World Cup. Their chances had seemed good when they topped their qualifying group with six wins out of six, but a disastrous 6-1 defeat to Ghana in the first leg of the final play-off rendered the second leg in Cairo – which Egypt won 2-1 – all but academic.

Elmohamady, who already has 66 international caps to his name, winces at the recollection. "Everyone was excited about qualifying because we haven't qualified for a long time now [since 1990] and we'd done so well in our group.

"But sometimes in football you can have a bad defeat, and that one killed us. We have to forget and look forward to the qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations, which start in September, and the next World Cup. Next time will be our time."

In the meantime seeing their footballers being successful in foreign domestic leagues and cups provides genuine compensation. The fortunes of Hull City, owned by an Egypt-born businessman and with Elmohamady a regular starter, are followed with huge interest and the manager Steve Bruce usually has a pile of letters from the country on his desk.

Bruce it was, of course, who brought Elmohamady to England in the first place, when he was in charge at Sunderland. Unsurprisingly, the suggestion that even now the former Manchester United centre-half's managerial ability is probably underrated finds the player in vigorous agreement.

Flying down the wing in the FA Cup semi-final Flying down the wing in the FA Cup semi-final  

"Look at his results. The first year after he brought me on loan to Sunderland in 2010 was fantastic, we finished in the top ten, I think I played 36 of the 38 games.

"He leaves, Martin O'Neill comes, I didn't play as much and then I had a call from the gaffer to come to Hull on loan. The first season we win promotion, he signs me full-time, this season we stay up, reach the FA Cup final and the Europa League.

"You can say 'he picks you, you must say that' but I think he is a great personality. He looks after his players, he is always asking about our lives outside football, making sure there are no problems, and he is clever too. With his experience you trust him, and when he makes changes they usually work."

Elmohamady points to City's semi-final win over Sheffield United, when after a distinctly undistinguished first half, changes in both tactics and personnel prompted sufficient improvement for the Premier League side to come through.

As a wing-back who can also play right-back, Elmohamady's versatility adds to his usefulness. "I've played in three or four positions this year but it's not a problem for me. When I came to Hull the manager said he wanted me to play in the position I play with the national team, right wing-back, I know this tactic and position much better, but it's no problem for me to play right wing-back, or right midfield, or right-back."

Only when asked about the issue of owner Assem Allam wanting to change the club's name does Elmohamady shrug apologetically. "When I get the chance I sometimes speak with the owner, but I have no real idea about this. We are just players, it's not our job to talk about this."

Mention his family and the smile quickly returns. "My wife Hama is with me, and now we have a son, Malik, who is just nine months. He was born in England actually, so he is already used to the cold.

"So I feel very settled and happy here, and for sure on Saturday I will be very proud if I am picked to play. We know Arsenal will be favourites, their confidence is better now they have some important players back like [Mesut] Özil and [Aaron] Ramsey. But you never know in finals. It is one game and we will be 100 per cent focused."

A knock on the door indicates Elmohamady is required up the hall, where the City players are being fitted with their Cup final suits. Another first for an Egyptian footballer.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there