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Mohamed Salah and Kay Voser had a Good Thing Going

By James Thomas, 06/19/18, 8:15AM EDT

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Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah takes center stage in the World Cup and Kay Voser tells the story behind his success

Egyptian superstar Mohammed Salah will soon make his World Cup debut, but Swiss international and Independence midfielder Kay Voser recalls what he was like as a teammate when they both played for Swiss side Basel. 

Q: Knowing Mohammad from when you were teammates at Basel, would you have ever thought he'd be a headliner heading into this World Cup?

Voser: No, to be honest, I would not have expected that. Right now everyone is speaking of him like they're speaking of Messi, at the moment, because he had such a great season. I wouldn't have expected that, but he was already a big star in Eygpt when I played with him. He was already their best player, they're biggest star in the country.

Q: You saw him on a daily basis and got to know him personally. Is it weird or odd to see him getting international attention?

Voser: It's maybe weird, but it's also nice as well because he's a really great guy. He's one of the best guys I've met in football, personality-wise. He has a great heart. He's such a natural guy who is never arrogant. I know that for a fact. And I'm really happy for him and his success. It's great to see him improve so much and that he's now one of the best players in the world. I'm really happy to see that.

Q: As teammates and friends,  what was it like to play with Mohammad? 
 

Voser: We were good friends on the team. We spoke a lot once his English improved. I was playing really well, and he was playing really well. We were both playing on the right side, I was right back and he was right midfielder. I started assisting and scoring so, we had this thing going before games -- I saw him eating dates before games in the mornings, so he invited me to try it once and I like it. After that I liked it and we won that game, so we made it a tradition and before games, we went to get dates and we'd eat it together. That was our routine, our habit because it worked.


Q: Were you guys superstitious?

Voser: I'm usually not, but back then, we started to be a little bit.

Q: Was a specific type of date from a specific place?

Voser: Yeah. The stadium in Basel is built in a shopping center, so there is a store there. We always went to that store.

Q: How do you think Salah and Egypt will do in the World Cup?

Voser: I'm not sure if he's going to be fit, so that will be key for them. I think if they're a bit lucky they can get through to the next round. They have a good team and they can win against teams, so hopefully, they will show us something.

Q: You told me when you signed with the Independence, part of the reason for coming to the United States was to experience the cultural differences. What are some of the differences you've experienced leading up to this World Cup?

Voser: The atmosphere. People are not talking about it. It's not huge here. I don't even know what places are showing the games right now, so I'm not sure if people are going to be watching it, or not. I haven't heard people talking about it, so that's very different than Europe because you have public viewing everywhere and you know where the public viewings will be because they build it and everyone talks about where you're going to watch the game. Obviously, it's different because the games here are the morning and early afternoon, but in Europe, they're in the evening.

Q: What are some of the things most Swiss people do during the World Cup?

Voser: They'll go to a beer garden and they'll have loads of screens and they have bratwurst and beer and watch the games. Everyone wears their jerseys. If Switzerland is playing, everyone comes in their Swiss jerseys. I can remember other world cups when Italy was involved, we'd have a lot of Italian people that come with their Italian jerseys. It's a great atmosphere. A lot of people get together.

Q: How you do think Switzerland will do in the World Cup?

Voser: I think they're in a tough group. But they're a really good team, so I expect them to maybe come second and if they're lucky, get to past the round of 16.  If they could get into the quarterfinals, that'd be great.

Q: Back home, do people expect the same or is anything less acceptable?

Voser: Yeah, if they don't make it to the next round, everyone will be disappointed. Everyone back home expects them to get through to the round of 16.

Q: A lot of Americans watch for the big storylines and the big names. Is that similar back home?

Voser: Most people try to watch every team, at least once. They're interested in the small teams as well. They try to watch those games too because they would never, ever watch a game involving a smaller nation if it wasn't the World Cup. They see that as a chance to see different teams and different countries and different players. They want to see more games than just the big matches.

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