Monday, September 25, 2023

Exclusive: Nick Matthew backs Mohamed ElShorbagy swapping The Pyramids for the Three Lions as he switches international allegiance from Egypt to England

‘I have always had great support from England Squash and as a British citizen I will give it my all playing under the English flag,’ says ElShorbagy
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Nick Matthew has hailed the decision by Mohamed ElShorbagy to switch international allegiance from Egypt to England as a massive coup and an even greater opportunity for his adopted home nation.

ElShorbagy has lived in England for more years than he has in Egypt, having moved to the West Country to attend the Millfield School in Somerset, and now holds British citizenship.

The 31-year-old is happily settled in Bristol and a potential move to play for England has been mentioned in squash circles for many years.

Runner-up to Ali Farag in the recent World Championships in Cairo, he lost to New Zealand’s Paul Coll in the semi-finals of last week’s El Gouna International in acrimonious circumstances as he received two conduct strokes at the end of the match.

It was a painful way to end his international allegiance to Egypt and he is waiting to hear what disciplinary repercussions will emerge from the PSA.

Mohamed ElShorbagy returned to top form in Egypt when he reached the final of the 2022 World Championship, finishing runner-up to Ali Farag

He will make his first appearance under the England flag in this week’s Necker Mauritius Open from June 7-11, and will compete as men’s top seed in the forthcoming National Championships in Manchester from June 14-18.

It was in Manchester that ElShorbagy won his only World Championship title, beating his younger brother Marwan in the 2017 final.

Mohamed will make his Team England debut at the European Team Championships in 2023.

Three-times world champion Matthew said: “I think it’s a massive positive and reminds me a lot of the Peter Nicol switch (from Scotland) where the younger players can benefit so much from his experience, excellence and expertise at the very highest level.

“I know he is very passionate about the support England has given him throughout his career since moving over as a 15-year-old so wants to give back.

“I’ve told the younger players I work with to try to spend as much time with him as possible and be a sponge soaking up everything there is to learn from him.”

Nick Matthew in action against Mohamed ElShorbagy during the 2017 World Championship in Manchester

England Squash announced this morning that former World No.1 ElShorbagy had switched allegiance to England with immediate effect.

“I’m really excited to be representing England now,” said ElShorbagy. “I’ve lived in England more than half my life and have been trained by British coaches.

“I came to study in England in 2006 and Bristol has since become my home. As a British citizen now, I will give everything I can to a country that has supported me for so many years.

“National coach David Campion and the wider England Squash team have offered me a lot of support over the years. When you have people like that who appreciate you for who you are, without expecting anything back, it means a lot.

“The opportunity to represent England is extremely exciting and I will give it my all playing under the English flag.”

ElShorbagy will receive a warm welcome in Mauritius, where the event is jointly promoted by Gregory Gaultier, the former world champion from France who has been working with him in recent months.

After reaching the final of the World Championships in Cairo, ElShorbagy credited Gaultier for helping him rekindle his hunger for the game.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, ElShorbagy is one of the most decorated squash players of all time, having spent 50 months at World No.1 between 2014-2021.

A three-time British Open winner, ElShorbagy has 44 professional titles to his name, putting him joint sixth on the all-time men’s winners list.

Another flashback to Manchester in 2017 with Mohamed ElShorbagy in action against Gregory Gaultier, who has been coaching him in recent weeks

Currently ranked third in the world, the 31-year-old has lived in England since he was 15, attending Millfield School in Somerset where he played squash under the tutelage of legendary coach Jonah Barrington, a six-time British Open champion. ElShorbagy has since been based in Bristol, where he studied at the University of the West of England.

England Squash CEO Mark Williams said: “We are very pleased to welcome Mohamed to England Squash and look forward to helping him continue to perform at the highest level of the game.

“We’re delighted that he’s so keen to play a role in supporting the exciting crop of young players currently coming through our talent pathway.

“We’re committed to extending England’s legacy as one of the most successful nations in squash and feel confident that adding a player of Mohamed’s calibre will help to inspire and encourage current and future generations of English talent.”

David Campion said: “Mohamed is a proven winner at the highest level of the game. He’s a formidable competitor and one of the best players of his generation who I believe will add a great deal to the England system.

“Mohamed is eager to impart his knowledge to the younger England generation and play the role of cultural architect, inspiring them through his leadership on and off court.

“He is at the place our players all want to be one day. Having a closer insight into his experiences can guide players to extract the very best of themselves in terms of belief, confidence, self-discipline and ultimately performance.”

Pictures courtesy of Patrick Lauson and PSA World Tour; YouTube video courtesy of England Squash


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