West Bromwich Albion defender Ahmed Hegazi has to impress at the summer World Cup in order to keep his Premier League dream alive.
Egypt’s hopes at this summer’s World Cup hang on a certain Mohamed Salah, but the Liverpool star forward will not be doing it all alone in Russia, despite almost single-handedly leading them to a first appearance in the finals of the tournament since 1990.
A supporting cast, including West Bromwich Albion centre-back Ahmed Hegazi, has been assembled to line up alongside the 25-year-old winger and attempt to lead the Pharaohs to glory on the biggest stage.
Firstly, there is the small matter of qualifying for the round-of-16 from a Group A consisting of hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay, and Hegazi will be playing for more than just the pride that comes with representing his country.
The 27-year-old defender could not help keep West Brom up and, while he has yet to reveal his future plans for the now-Championship side, remaining in the Premier League is surely top of his agenda heading into 2018-19.
A good outing in Russia will all but guarantee Hegazi top-flight football next season, but he has certainly come a long way since the last World Cup in Brazil four years ago.
The former Ismaily star was not only watching the tournament from home at the time, he was also struggling with an anterior cruciate ligament injury that saw him play just one Serie A game for Fiorentina in the 2013-14 season.
The same injury limited Hegazi to only three appearances across all competitions in the 2012-13 campaign for La Viola and, after he was eventually released in January 2015, he switched to Serie B side Perugia Calcio on loan for the rest of the season.
Having failed to impress in his first stint in Europe, the Egyptian centre-back returned home, joining Al Ahly in September.
Two seasons back in familiar surroundings resulted in back-to-back Egyptian Premier League titles and an Egyptian Super Cup, while he also helped his country to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2017.
Hegazi’s performances over these two years earned him a deserved move to the Premier League in the summer of 2017, initially joining the Baggies on loan, before they exercised the option to sign him on a permanent basis in December.
He ended up playing the most minutes in the league for West Brom, featuring in all the 38 games to highlight how important he was to the club.
Since making his international debut in 2011 as a 20-year-old, Hegazi has gone on to earn 43 caps, and he will be hoping to do more than just increase the tally in Russia.
An outstanding individual World Cup campaign would go a long way to deciding which club and league he will be playing in next season.