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27th June 2004:

The first time I heard his name, I wasn’t in the best of moods, as it was to hear that an Egyptian-Magician had prevented Thierry Lincou from becoming the first ever French World Champion back in December 2003…

Then I met him in person at the Super Series Final in London 2004… And like everybody else in the Squash Universe, I fell under his charm…

Brilliant, talented beyond belief, witty and funny, I sometimes want to strangle him when his concentration wanders around, but then he looks at me with his dark gorgeous eyes, and says “I know what you are going to say, and you are right…”, and I just melt…

He is one of the most charismatic players on the tour, he just got married to a lady whose native language is French, he is a happy man, he is a lucky man…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Amr Shabana, "Prince of Egypt"..

Amr Shabana:
Resolute -- and absolutely ingenious --
The triumph of instinct

"He belongs tactically to the past -- a young, old-fashioned player. If I were to sum up Shabana in one word it would be flair. He doesn't think on the court, he just has the right instincts. It's wonderful to watch..."

          Profile of a World Champion, by Mohamed El-Sayed
                 from the Al Ahram Weekly, February 2004
                          London, May 2004


As I told you earlier this week, I was looking forward to see the Egyptian in action. I read, heard so much about him, I wanted to be swept off my feet.

And to start with, I wasn’t.

But as the days passed, the charismatic World Champion played better and better. He has a great sense of humour (don’t forget that like me, English is not his first language, so my hat to him), he is quick, charming, warm, very humble and yet very proud.

In three words, I like him.

“It’s all mental, you know”, he told me while putting some ice on his shin splints, “the first day, I was a bit edgy, I was playing without thinking, just hitting the ball, a power game if you will. Then I got 2 bad calls, and lost my concentration.”

At that moment, I pointed out that, whatever the quality of the refereeing, he should not have challenged the referee, and should have gone on playing his own game, instead of playing a separate match with the official.

He humbled “yes, I know, you’re right”, to which I replied “Of course I’m right, I’m French, AND a woman”. Amr laughed his head off “Of course, of course, I should have known…”

Then he went on:
“Yesterday, in my match against Joe Kneipp, I didn’t push forward, I didn’t try enough, and as it’s often the case, the body locks out, and I started feeling my injuries again, and I didn’t perform well either.

“So today, I wanted to redeem my dignity. People were expecting a World Champion, and I gave them the performance of a local player.

“Tonight, I played better, and I hope that next year, I’ll qualify again and give a much better performance right from the start.

Can’t wait to see the man again, he is a pleasure to know…

                     Kuwait, March 2005

The wonderful, delightful, cheeky Amr Shabana is about to become an honest man at last… He will be marrying a beautiful French speaking Egyptian lady, Najla, on the 17th June 2005.

“We've known each other since we were 13, we met at a party, and we had some friends in common”, explained Amr. “Then, we just saw each other socially, as we were at the same school, but nothing more than that. Five years later, one of my best friends asked me “What is your relationship with Najla?”. “I like her, but I don’t know her that well really”, I replied. So the next day, I phoned her, and we went out together. I was 18 years old, and we have been together ever since.”

“She is not from the squash world, and that was very important for me. I didn’t want anybody involved on the circuit. And she is so hard to please, you know, she always expects me to train harder, and she pushes me to train, and to win, even in an exhibition match, I’m not allowed to lose: “You will get used to losing”, she says to me!

“She is so good for me, she is a free spirit, and she is as French as you are, Framboise, you know. She is so French…”

Well, I’ve got only two things to say to you Amr… One, congratulations, and two, if she is anything like me, you are going to suffer, but to suffer... But you’ll have a great time doing it…

Nottingham,Nov 2004

Shabana officially engaged…
Girls, another one that is gone… Amr Shabana, the lovely charming cheeky Egyptian, world champion, has found complete happiness… her name is Najla, and the wedding is planned for May.

“She is fluent in French,”  Amr told me, “actually, French is her first language, so you’ll have to teach me French…”

“I tell you what” I replied, “You send me a piece for Kaleidoscope, as you promised, and I'll give you a French lesson.”

“Done”, he smiled.

Boy, isn’t it hard to get you articles…

'Almost Famous'

Amr on Kaleidoscope

            Canary Wharf, March 2005

Travelling is no fun...

Amr Shabana, the "Prince of Egypt", as Robert Edwards calls him, had a nasty surprise at his arrival at Heathrow today, as his visa had been wrongly issued, and seemed to allow him to stay in England... for only one day, as the start and the end dates of the visa both stated 15th March 2005! So he had to call the Embassy to have another visa issued, with the correct dates this time.

So imagine his stress, the panic not to be able to arrive on time, to miss the competition, etc...

We all know that Amr can be a bit... easily distracted, so, I think he did pretty well to play a good long five setter, and especially to win a long match in those conditions...

Well played mate!
Amr Shabana:

Resolute -- and absolutely ingenious -- The triumph of instinct

"He belongs tactically to the past -- a young, old-fashioned player. If I were to sum up Shabana in one word it would be flair. He doesn't think on the court, he just has the right instincts. It's wonderful to watch..."

Profile by Mohamed El-Sayed
from the Al Ahram Weekly

from May 2004
to March 2005