In 2015, a new name appeared on the Egyptian football arena, which is Hossam Salama “Paulo”, a name that first appeared as a star with a small team that does not draw the lights like the interior, but he managed to draw the lights himself and by performing on the field.
In the past days, at the age of 38, the name Paolo appeared again on the scene after a long period of absence, but in beach soccer during the African Nations Cup, and he was the first star of the Egyptian team during the tournament.
Paulo had his career stalled for a number of reasons, but he managed to bring it back to light in a special way that not many people do.
Over the course of his career, Paulo stumbled more than once, and each time was enough to end his football career completely, but his insistence was enough to continue it and write a history for himself again.
Paulo’s start with football was the first stumble. Like any child who loves football, Hossam Salama went with 4 of his friends to test in Zamalek, but unfortunately for him, he was rejected, but the rest of his friends were accepted.
Hossam did not despair and decided to take the test in Al-Ahly as well, but he was also rejected because of his short stature.
In the end, Paulo decided to leave football permanently and turned to playing volleyball, and after a long time he returned to football again from the gate of the Sanafir Youth Center and from there to Aha until he settled in the first team of Toukh Club in the third division.
Paulo spoke years ago on the Sada Al-Balad channel, saying: “I was watching the Premier League strikers on television, such as Amr Zaki, Imad Miteb and Ahmed Hossam Mido, and I said that I was able to play like them.”
After three years with Toukh, Paulo moved to Menouf, which is one of the important stations in his history, according to his description, because his coach in the team, Hamdi Abu Radi, was spending time training him to play a lot on goal and score and scored 10 goals before returning again to Toukh.
After shining with Menouf, Paulo received an offer from the Mahalla municipality for 50 thousand pounds to be the most expensive player in Toukh’s history. He also received another offer from Ghazl El-Mahalla, but on the condition of testing with the team.
And because Paulo used to stumble in his career, the officials of the Mahalla municipality knew about him taking the test in Ghazl al-Mahalla, to decide to withdraw their offer, and his transfer to Ghazl al-Mahalla was not completed because they contracted with another player.
Paulo asked to leave Toukh, but the club’s management stipulated that he pay 50 thousand pounds in exchange for his monthly salary of only 50 pounds with the club, to decide to retire from football and go to work in any other field to spend on his house.
Hossam came from a poor family, like many footballers, and did not have the luxury of paying 50 thousand pounds only to move to a new club, so much so that he sold his mobile phone for 800 pounds in order to buy the network for his fiancée.
After a while sitting at home, Hisham Abdel Rasoul, the players’ agent, was looking for a new striker for the Sukkar Abu Qurqas team. By chance, he spoke with Paolo and introduced him to the team that played a friendly match with them in front of the channel, and as usual, he managed to score a goal so that the club officials wanted to sign him.
Sukkar Abu Qurqas again spoke with Toukh, and his club again asked for 50 thousand pounds, so that Paulo agreed with Abu Qurkas to pay the amount in exchange for his deduction from his contract with the club.
At the age of 28, Paulo participated for the first time in the second division with Sukkar Abu Qurqas. The first season was not successful enough, he scored only five goals and did not play continuously, but the second season witnessed a great boom and scored 16 goals to get the title of top scorer in the group.
Paulo’s performance drew attention to him, as he moved to Sukkar El Hawamdiya and from there to the sun, and once again got the title of top scorer in the group and top scorer for his team with the sun.
Finally, Paolo draws the attention of the major teams, and this time it was the Interior after a recommendation from his friend and former colleague Mohamed El-Sweifi to Alaa Abdel-Aal, the team coach, to decide to offer Paolo the test in the team, which he agreed to directly because of his desire to play in the Premier League without thinking about finances despite his great need for money.
Hossam Polo says that he underwent the test for two whole weeks with the Ministry of the Interior, so that Alaa Abdel Aal finally agreed to contract with him, on the condition that his team did not exaggerate in his financial requests.
Al-Shams Club initially asked for 56 thousand pounds, which was what the player received during his time with the club. Indeed, the Ministry of Interior issued a check for the required amount, but the club requested another 7 thousand, which are the rewards he received.
Paolo said via Sada El Balad: “I did not tell the Ministry of the Interior about the additional amount so that the deal would not stop, but I borrowed from my friend 4 thousand pounds, and my brother’s wife thankfully sold her gold chain for another 3 thousand pounds to complete the required amount.
Paolo’s dream came true to reach the Premier League at the age of 30, an age when players are close to retiring, but in Paolo’s case it was the real start of his career.
After an unsuccessful first season, during which he scored two goals, Paulo exploded in his second season and proved his talent in the 2014/2015 season to achieve the title of top scorer in the Egyptian Premier League with 20 goals, surpassing Bassem Morsi, who starred in the year of Zamalek’s coronation.
Paulo’s brilliance opened the door for a new step forward, and this time it was with Smouha to shine again and get the league’s top scorer for the second time in a row with 17 goals.
Paulo’s remarkable appearance made him achieve the ultimate goal of his football game, which is to play for his country’s national team and participate in the greatest achievement of reaching the 2018 World Cup, something that many people may not remember that Paulo was on the bench in the matches of Ghana and Congo in the first and second rounds of the qualifiers. He will be able to mention his name among the names that participated in making that achievement.
The following season, Paulo continued to perform well with Smouha and scored 6 goals until January, to draw the attention of Zamalek, one of the two Egyptian football poles, who included him for 7 million pounds, a difference incomparable with the amounts paid in the player previously.
Playing in Zamalek until the age of 34 is a difficult thing, let alone shine and join the team at this age for the first time. Such things are what highlight Paolo’s struggling career.
And because Paulo, who was used to difficulties and falls, the 34-year-old did not succeed with Zamalek and participated in only 18 matches during two seasons, during which he scored three goals, to start his career declining again.
Paulo left Zamalek to Al-Ittihad and was excluded from the final list of Egypt’s national team participating in the World Cup under the leadership of Hector Cuper, who had previously trusted him.
During 4 years, Hossam Paulo played with four different clubs in the Premier League in search of brilliance again and to prove his ability to provide more tender, but this did not materialize, so he returned in 2020 to the second division again at the age of 37 years through the Arsenal gate.
A player at the age of 37 moves from the Premier League to the second division with a club that does not even contend for promotion, a perfect combination that would have ended the careers of many former players but in the case of the most struggling Paulo it was not.
Paulo participated last season with the Pioneers and from him he moved to the channel at the beginning of the current season, but the story of the struggle was not represented in football as we knew it.
Last year, Paulo decided to participate with the Egyptian beach soccer team.
Paulo told the story of his participation with the Egyptian beach soccer team on Ontime Sports, saying: “I went to train with them by chance during a camp in Saudi Arabia while performing Umrah. I had not played beach soccer before, but they asked me to participate in the World Cup qualifiers in Senegal.”
And he continued, “The tournament would have taken 10 days and I was feeling a tight psychological state because I did not play much with the arsenal. Indeed, I went, participated, shined, scored 9 goals, and was second in the scorers list.”
The Egyptian team did not achieve any achievement during the participation in the tournament, but it was a gateway to achieving an achievement during the previous edition that was held in Mozambique.
Once again, Paulo obtained permission to participate in the African Nations Cup for Beach Soccer with the Egyptian national team during the previous days, and this time the achievement was even greater.
Paulo led Egypt to reach the final for the first time in its history, and despite the loss from Senegal in the final, he secured qualification for the 2023 World Cup for the first time in Egypt’s history.
The 39-year-old participated again in Egypt’s qualification for the World Cup, and unlike what happened in 2018, this time, Paolo was one of those who wrote the achievement with their feet and scored two main goals in the match to reach the final against Morocco.
“I am happy to achieve my goal of reaching the World Cup with the beach soccer team, before announcing my retirement from football,” Paulo said in statements on Al-Hayat channel after the tournament.
In 2018, Paolo was not included in the list of Egypt’s national team participating in the World Cup after his level declined, but this time Paulo may be one of the team’s stars and in the first row, and his name will be on the honorary list that will represent Egypt for the first time in the Beach Soccer World Cup, but if he does not stumble again .
Paulo’s life story is perfect for novelists and autobiographical artwork, including its bumps and coming back every time, but what will make it iconic is that he continues to strive always to achieve his dreams, which were achieved just a short distance from the end of his career.
Hossam Salama “Paulo” may be close to retiring from football and this may be achieved after participating in the World Cup next year, but his career will remain one of the immortal marches in the history of football and his name will remain engraved as a player who won the title of top scorer in the Egyptian Premier League twice and participated in the Egyptian Cup the world of beach soccer for the first time, and why not Paulo may continue to write his achievements after retiring in another way from football.