The summer Olympic Games in Tokyo could mark the final step of Ahmed El-Ahmar’s illustrious international career after the Egyptian handball legend said he might call it a day soon.
“I haven’t decided yet the date of my retirement but I am considering ending my international career after the Olympics,” he said in a television interview in April
The 37-year-old, an iconic handball figure in Egypt and Africa, will make his fourth Olympic appearance with the Pharaohs, having been a regular presence since 2004. Although he is way past his prime, his contributions still make the difference for the national team.
El-Ahmar came across as promising player in the African Championship in 2004 in Cairo.
The winger stole the show with his undoubted talent, producing a series of string displays as Egypt won their fourth continental title.
He caught the eyes with his catchy feints, bamboozling defenders and leaving them chasing shadows.
Throughout his glittering career, the Golden Boy, as local media often describe him, made a number of records that put him on par with the legends of Egyptian handball.
El-Ahmar is Egypt’s top scorer in the World Championship with more than 250 goals in seven participations.
The left-handed player is also the team’s top scorer in Olympic Games with 77 goals in three editions.
El-Ahmar was named as Africa’s best player several times, winning four continental titles with Egypt.
On the club level, the Zamalek player followed in the footsteps of his father Mostafa El-Ahmar, who is also one of the club’s icons.
He helped Zamalek win a total of 28 titles — 15 continental crowns and 13 local triumphs.
With the White Knights, El-Ahmar also won the bronze medal of the Super Globe in 2010, finishing as the competition’s top scorer with 41 goals. He is also the Super Globe’s all-time top scorer with 197 goals.
El-Ahmar enjoyed similar success overseas.
He won four continental titles in Asia with Qatar’s El Jaish (two titles), Ahly Jeddah (one title) and Lebanon’s Al-Sad (one title).
During his short spell with Tunisia’s Club Africain, he helped them win their solitary African Champions League title in 2014, taking his tally to 20 continental titles — a world record.
He also had a short stint with then European champions SG Flensburg-Handewitt in 2015, leading them to a German Cup triumph to become the first player in the world to win titles in three continents.
In recognition of El-Ahmar’s distinguished career, he was chosen to carry the country’s flag in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and he is also one of the frontrunners to get the same honour in Tokyo.