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Speaking in an exclusive interview with Malek Shafei for KingFut, New York Red Bulls defender Amro Tarek talked about his career history and his aspirations for the upcoming season.
Malek Shafei: You began your professional career in Europe, what made you move move so early and how was your time there?
Amro Tarek: From an early age my dream was to play in Europe. My dad helped me to go on trial in Germany when I was 17 years old. It worked out and I was lucky to move from Egypt at such a young age.
MS: I read that you began your career in Egypt as a striker, what made you move down the pitch to centre-back?
AT: That information is actually not true. I was primarily a left back who occasionally played left wing. When I played at El Gouna, the coach switched me to centre-back.
MS: Your move to Real Betis was surprising to many people, how did it happen?
AT: I had a very good two seasons with El Gouna. I had offers from a lot of the top teams in Egypt like Al Ahly and Zamalek, but when Real Betis offered me a contract I couldn’t reject it. Unfortuneatley it wasn’t a good experience for me, but I learned a lot.
MS: Do you have any advice to young Egyptian players who want to play in Europe?
AT: Yes. If you have a chance to from Egypt at a young age you should go for it, because it will help you a lot. Be open to learn and work really hard. Because outside of Egypt they care about your talent.
MS: How does the MLS compare to the Egyptian Premier League?
AT: I believe there is no comparison to be made. The Egyptian Premier League is so far behind Major League Soccer, from everything to technical to advertising. We have a lot of talented players in Egypt but we do not have the right environment or tools to develop them.
MS: Would you recommend a move to America for young Egyptian players?
AT: For sure. I think a lot of players would love to come. It’s not so easy because of the passport and Green Card. But I would recommend any young Egyptian player who wants to take a step forward in their career to come to MLS.
MS: For a short period of time there were two other Egyptians in the league: Aly Ghazal and Omar Gaber. How was it having other Egyptians in the league with you.
AT: It was great. I met both of them while we played against their teams. They were really, really happy here. Even Aly Ghazal wanted to come back after his time in Portugal.
When I smoke to Omar [Gaber] he was really happy here but he had a great offer from Pyramids. It was a no-brainer to move back to Egypt given the money. I think they both enjoyed their time in the league.
MS: You were born in America. Did you ever consider playing for the US NT?
AT: When I was playing in Germany there were some people who contacted me about it. But I never considered it, it was always my dream to play for Egypt. Now I think it’s too late to switch to America because I already played for Egypt.
MS: How was your time with the Egyptian national team?
AT: It was great. It’s the biggest honor for any player to represent their nation. I wish I had played more games or went to the World Cup but I’m still happy and grateful for the opportunity to play and train with such an amazing team. This current group is amazing and has such a bright future ahead of them.
MS: Have you spoken to the new national teach coach Hossam El Badry yet?
AT: No I haven’t spoken to him and I don’t think we’ll speak. I don’t think any Egyptian coach who coaches the national team will give a chance to an MLS player. The Egyptians don’t know the league and don’t bother to watch the games. I don’t really believe I’ll have a chance to play for the National Team under El Badry.
MS: Your performances the last two years in America really helped you get back onto the National Team. It would be a real shame if they don’t look at that.
AT: They don’t take MLS seriously, which is sad because it’s a sign of a lack of education. I am happy where I am now, but I would be even happier if I get called up. If not, I won’t have a problem because I believe in what I am doing, and I believe in this league.
MS: You’ve been excellent for the Red Bulls in just a season, crucial at the back and even popping up to score and assist goals. What’s allowed you to play so well here?
AT: I think sometimes you find the perfect group. It’s the right team, right players. I really love this system at Red Bull and it fits me well.
MS: What are your goals for the season? Both Personal and team?
AT: As a team we are very competitive. It’s the same every year. And that’s to win the MLS Cup. Personally, I want to get called up for the National Team and help my team win the MLS Cup.
Q: Favorite player growing up?
A: This is kind of a weird answer since they are attacking players. But they are Mido and Mohamed Zidan.
Q: Did you want to be a defender or an attacker growing up?
A: I haven’t thought about this a lot. When I was younger I just enjoyed going up on the left side. But I’ve always been a good defender. I liked Zidan and Mido when I was young because I wanted to leave Egypt and go abroad like they did.
Q: Favorite teammate?
A: This is a tough question. I’d say Marc Rzatkowski.
Q: Favorite food?
A: I love going to the Arabic restaurants in New Jersey since I miss Egyptian food.
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