Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been praised by manager Jurgen Klopp for being an inspirational figure after the Egypt international was named in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019.
The 26-year-old, a prominent Muslim, has become a role model not only for his home country but for the Arab nation as a whole.
That wider appeal outside of Liverpool-supporting fans earned him a place on Time’s list and he travelled to New York for a celebration gala dinner earlier this week.
“I’m very proud of that, because people in football, we are obviously on television, in newspapers a lot, and most of the time we don’t say very smart things,” said Klopp.
“But Mo is a very smart person and his role is very influential. He said a couple of really good things and inspired, hopefully, some people on one side to think about a few things, and on the other side he got other people aware of him.
“In the world at the moment, it is very important that you have people like Mo.
“It should not be his first job obviously, but it’s important that he has an opinion and that he makes his opinion public.
“I was completely fine, we always say football is not the most important thing in the world, but when you can prove it, you have to be there.”
Salah was excused a day’s training in order to make his trans-Atlantic trip but Klopp was not concerned about the effect it would have on his 23-goal forward.
“Travelling these days is no problem any more. It would be more of a problem if his car broke and he had to walk from here,” he added.
“He missed one session. Today he is in training and everything is fine again.
“I saw a few pictures, and he looked brilliant in his tuxedo. Wow. He met a lot of famous people. Mrs Targaryen (Game of Thrones actor Emilia Clarke), eh? She was there as well.
“If he’d have asked me maybe I would have joined him. It was very interesting and now he’s back, it’s all fine.”