Egyptian heroes return to ecstatic fans and a Presidential medal

21 Aug. 2019

Egyptian heroes return to ecstatic fans and a Presidential medal

Moments after Egypt’s U19 youth team beat Germany 32:28 in the final of the 2019 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, Egypt’s football and sporting icon Mohamed Salah used his personal Twitter account to acknowledge what he had just seen to his 10 million followers.

The Liverpool FC striker wrote: “A thousand congratulations to the handball team – the world champions.”

Salah was one of over a combined online viewing total (through official channels) of around 1.1 million people, with TV figures yet to be released.

More interest was to come for the Egyptian squad though as they arrived home at Cairo International Airport on Tuesday morning (20 August) at 02:00, with rapturous crowds welcoming them. Footage showed the team on the airport bus from the plane to the arrivals terminal with the squad dancing and cheering before reaching the arrivals terminal to large numbers of fans packed inside singing and chanting their names.

Later on Tuesday the squad attended a reception, hosted by the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He presented every member of the North Macedonia 2019 delegation with the ‘Egyptian Medal of Sport - First Class’ live on television.

The President then gathered the squad together next to the championship trophy and praised the athletes for promoting Egypt on the global sports stage before explaining to them how they were role models for young people through their excellence, strength of determination and of reaching goals through effort.

Also in attendance was the President Nasr and Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr Ashraf Sobhy, who received the IHF flag at the closing ceremony of the 2019 IHF Men’s World Championship in Denmark as hosts of the next edition of the senior event, in 2021.

As the first team to break the all-European hold on the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, Egypt had a number of key players to thank with the Most Valuable Player award going to Ahmed Hesham Elsayed, Hassan Walid Ahmed receiving the best left back award and Abdelrahman Mohamed Homayed voted as best goalkeeper – all three of those players were in the bronze medal-winning U21 team at the 2019 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship in Spain in July. With two World Championship medals won within one month, this has been the most successful month in the history of Egyptian men’s younger age category global handball.

Egyptian Handball Federation President Hesham Nasr also confirmed all players were given a financial reward for their success from both the federation and the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

“We are so tired, but we fought for it,” said Egypt assistant coach Hussein Aly Zaki Hussein to IHFtv. “Egypt needed a gold now, before 2021, and with these guys we are going to do something special for all the world.

“I think our secret is our big heart,” he added to “All the European teams are very strong and when our guys lost against France (in the preliminary group – their only loss), we tried to calm down them and to share our experience. After that match, we won all the other matches and this success will be one step up in their careers.”

“This is the happiest moment of my life,” said Ahmed Hesham Elsayed, the MVP of North Macedonia 2019 to IHFtv. “I can’t believe it, but it’s hard work; all the effort is worth it. My award doesn't matter, the most important is that we won the World Championship.”

In amongst the time of celebration, the Egyptian Handball Federation (EHF) President Hesham Nasr, on behalf of the federation and the members of the EHF council, took time to write to the President of the Handball Federation of Nigeria, Sam Ocheho, to express their “love, respect and appreciation” for the encouragement and support that the Nigerian youth squad had shown to the team from the stands during the final weekend in Skopje as they cheered and clapped their continental rivals.

President Nasr said the support was an “excellent example of how our sport of handball shows the meaning of competition and love at the same time, as the whole world has shown the spirit of brotherhood among the nations of our continent, the continent of Africa.”

Photo: Handball Federation of Egypt