Every season, a few players come out of nowhere (or, in this case, Egypt) and become the “Hot New Thing.” This year it’s Amr Zaki, the on-loan striker who has made a splash at Wigan. But Zaki hasn’t scored a goal since December and seems destined to ply his trade for the highest bidder this summer.
And maybe Zaki has been reading his own press clippings lately. How else could you explain the fact that he returned late from international duty for the fourth time this season. To be fair, this time Zaki came with a doctor’s note — from the Egyptian physios, that wasn’t backed up with the requisite scans. And, it appears that Zaki still has not turned up at Wigan.
Zaki is set to be fined two weeks’ wages and, more hilariously, Steve Bruce unleashed the following diatribe on Wigan’s official website:
“I really am at the end of my tether with him. Before this latest incident, Zaki had already been fined considerably more than the average person in Britain earns in a year and he will now face another heavy fine.”
“I just feel it’s time that we went public on just what a nightmare he has been to deal with because I can honestly say that in all my time in football I have never worked with someone as unprofessional.
“This is the fourth time he has not reported back on time from international training.
“I have already fined him the maximum allowed but this just seems to have no effect. I am now fearful that if I don’t take firm action, it will disrupt the rest of my squad, who – to a man – behave totally professionally.
“I am right behind my players representing their countries, it is a tremendous honour for the club. This is not the issue here.
“But my South American players, for instance, have to go much longer distances but I have never had a problem with any of them.
“In Zaki’s case, it really defies belief from a player who is on loan and trying to earn himself a long-term contract.”
Bruce added that he feels personally let down after the effort that he made to clinch his signature in the first place, and for the way the club has behaved towards him.
“When his daughter was ill before Christmas, I gave him extra time off, while I know my staff have worked very hard to help him settle in England.
“I’m sick of answering questions about Zaki’s whereabouts and I don’t want anything to distract the players from preparing for another massive game for us on Sunday against Everton.
“Zaki’s behaviour has shown total disrespect to the club who pays him a very good wage and equally as importantly, to the fans who sing his name from the stands. I think it’s time for them to know the truth about the man.
“This situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible and I don’t feel it’s appropriate to say anything more at this stage, apart from how let down I feel, personally and professionally.”
I’m on Steve Bruce’s side here, the club comes before any player, especially when that player has one foot out the door. Next year he’ll be someone else’s problem, let’s say, oh, Harry Redknapp.