Liverpool's Mohamed Salah "very happy" to win 2017 BBC African Footballer of the Year

Liverpool winger Mo Salah declared himself delighted to become the winner of the BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2017 after his striking goalscoring form for the Reds added to his contributions to the Egyptian national team over the course of the calendar year.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah "very happy" to win 2017 BBC African Footballer of the Year
(Picture: Getty Images - Clive Brunskill)

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah declared himself "very happy" after being crowned the 2017 BBC African Footballer of the Year on Monday.

The Premier League top scorer - with 13 - won the award for his electric start to his Reds career, scoring 19 goals in all competitions in a mere 24 matches, as well as his exploits for Egypt.

Salah scored the latest of his ever-growing haul in a red shirt in his first Merseyside derby, a stunning curled strike after evading two Everton defenders with strength and skill.

He also scored five goals in 11 appearances in 2017 for his country, including the pressure stoppage-time penalty that secured their World Cup berth for next summer - their first time in the finals since 1990.

Salah is only the second ever Liverpool player to win the award after El-Hadji Diouf, who won it more so for his performances at the 2002 World Cup with Senegal than a forgettable spell at Anfield.

He beat team-mate Sadio Mané, also of Senegal, and future Liverpool midfielder Naby Keïta of RB Leipzig, the £48 million Guinean joining the Merseyside outfit next summer.

The Reds' No.11 also saw off competition from Borussia Dortmund and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Chelsea and Nigeria's Victor Moses, formerly a Liverpool loanee in 2013-14.

Reds winger hails "special" prize

Talking to BBC Sport, Salah - who also scored eight goals in 18 appearances for AS Roma in the latter half of the 2016-17 campaign - said: "I'm very happy to win this award, it’s a special feeling for me."

The 25-year-old expressed his thanks to "everybody" including his team-mates, adding: "I am very happy here at the club [Liverpool]. I've had a very good start here. The manager has helped me to settle into the team."

He also referred to the "very good season" he had in Italy with Roma before signing for Liverpool in a £36.7 million deal, with 19 goals and 15 assists across all competitions.

"So I need to thank my teammates [there] and also my teammates in the national team," he continued, calling all those he works with "very professional" and describing his happiness "with them."

"I'd also like to win it next year," Salah joked upon receiving the award, following on from Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez's triumph last term with Yaya Touré of Manchester City the 2015 winner, claiming the gong for the second time.

Salah is the first Egyptian recipient of the accolade since striker Mohamed Aboutrika in 2008, recognised for his role in the Pharoah's sixth African Cup of Nations success that year, scoring the winner in the final.

He also added: "I want everyone in Egypt to follow my way. Since I left Egypt, in my mind, I want to be the best Egyptian [player] ever. I work hard and try to be different from them."

Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp hailed Salah's win "a fantastic prize for a pretty good player" and insisted he is a "really lucky person" to have worked with "a few fantastic, outstandingly good players" and now Salah.

"The good thing with him is he is still young, there is a lot of space for improvement and still a lot of potential for us to work on, but that's how it should be," continued the German.

He called it "a big pleasure" to be able to work with Salah and "the other guys together", insisting: "On a good day, we make it easy for each other because that's how football should be."