Mohamed Salah‘s brief time at Chelsea was miserable but formative, with one blast from Jose Mourinho leaving him “crying in the dressing room.”
That is according to former team-mate John Obi Mikel, who claims the Egyptian’s frustration at the London club was ultimately the making of him.
Salah only spent a year in the squad at Chelsea, having seen an initial move to Liverpool break down in 2014, before loan spells at Fiorentina and AS Roma – the latter which became permanent in 2016.
Each of his 19 appearances came under Mourinho, but only 10 of those were as a starter and he played the full 90 minutes just twice.
In one particular game – a 0-0 draw with Norwich two-and-a-half months after joining – he was substituted at half-time, with Mikel recalling the incident in an interview with Dubai Eye 103.8 Sport.
“I remember what he did to Mo Salah, and the guy was crying in the dressing room in the second half. Crying,” the Nigerian said.
“I think he was having a bad game and then obviously Mourinho came in and ripped into him. Massively ripped into him.
“Then what happened is he didn’t let him back onto the pitch for the second half – he took him off.
“It would have been easy to do that, just get him off and say ‘you’re not playing well, off you go, sit down, you’re not going back onto the pitch’, but he ripped into him and got him off.
“Now look at him.”
Salah’s transformation since that turbulent time at Chelsea has been remarkable, going from a bit-part winger to an all-conquering and record-breaking goalscorer.
He has now dramatically exceeded the potential he showed at Basel, making a mockery of Mourinho’s failure to get the best out of him at Stamford Bridge.
“I think [it was the making of him],” Mikel continued.
“When I look at it, you could also say the same with Lukaku as well, when I look at the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah, what they’ve become, now the best players in the world.
“It’s amazing to see. They’ve become physically stronger, they’ve become faster.
“I don’t know what happened to them!”
Mourinho would almost certainly take credit for the development of both Salah and De Bruyne, with those tears in the dressing room seen as a turning point.
But it is more a testament to their own fortitude that they recovered from disappointment at Chelsea to become two of the best players in world football.