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After talking about Al Ahly, we could not omit Zamalek, another historic team from Cairo, which has always been linked to the local elite.
The club of the nobility
Zamalek was founded in 1911 as Qasr El Nile Club by Belgian George Merzabach, becoming the first team to arise without direct ties to the British, then de facto masters of Egypt. Initially thought to be everyone’s club, regardless of ethnicity or wealth, it soon became a representation of European power over the country and this also thanks to the opposition with the already bitter rivals of Al Ahly. If for the latter having an English representative was a mere formality, the same was not for the Zamalek which maintained a foreign president until 1917. Precisely on that date, however, there was the first historic battle for city domination, conquered by its rivals.
In 1923 General Mohamed Haidar Pasha will take control of the club, who will shape the future Zamalek in his own image and likeness, bringing him considerably closer to the influence of the crown. The proximity was so great that in 1941 the team was renamed Farouk Al Awal, or “Farouk the first”, in homage to the last monarch in Egyptian history. This very strong bond, however, will be broken in 1952, the year of the Nasserian revolution, the perfect time for a restyling.
Zamalek, the African club of the century
In a very similar way to what happened then in Iran with Persepolis and Esteghlal, the club was imposed an immediate name change, in such a way as to “untie” from the previous government and be friends with the new and revolutionary one. The choice fell on “Zamalek”, the place where the team had its headquarters. The new name, in reality, does not excessively betray the choices of the past, that particular district is in fact considered among the most exclusive of Cairo, therefore undoubtedly associated with the wealthy part of the population.
After the revolution, the club will once again triumph both locally and, above all, internationally. Zamalek will in fact become for years the most successful team in all of Africa, so much so as to deserve the nickname of “club of the century”. It was only in the ’00s that it was reached and surpassed by its rivals, remaining however among the most titled and celebrated in history.
For podcasts, tomorrow Moghreb Tétouan awaits us, the only African team to have played in La Liga, with the articles, however, we go to Morocco to discover the greens of Raja Casablanca.
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