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22/06/1924: Howorka interviews Salem

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-10-24 17:26:54

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
— Ottó Howorka | 22/06/1924, Vienna —

We are after the Austria-Egypt national team match. The banquet is now underway in the intimate restaurant of the Hotel de France. The president of the Austrian Football Association speaks and greets the visiting team, the managers, the referee in turn, but he forgets about his own players, who did not even show up at the dinner in full. Everyone gets something as a souvenir. The Egyptian players, the team leaders, the Egyptian referee and Herites, the referee of the Austro-Egyptian match, just once again forget about the members of the national eleven...
But all this doesn't really interest me, on the contrary, I am interested in the Egyptian team, which was part and parcel of our tragedy in Paris; my longing glances mostly focus on the face of Salem, who rose to great fame.
The rumor has reached Vienna as well, everyone is talking about him, the horror of the Hungarians, and Salem wears the inquisitive glances with a gentle smile and is at his disposal with noble delicacy to anyone who addresses him in French or English.
I myself can hardly wait for him to break free from the siege ring of the Viennese squires, because I want to talk to him.
I want to know the reason for your defeat in Paris and the explanation for the surprising success of the Egyptian team.
Salem, who I find out is a police lieutenant at home (a position similar to the police captain here) and is not only the best player of the Egyptian team, but also the most educated member, — readily answers and thoughtfully, but without thinking, answers the questions raised.
— What were your impressions of the Egypt-Hungary match in Paris? — I asked the excellent defender as an introduction:
Salem: We were very afraid of the Hungarians, and rightly so. In the first 20 minutes of the game, we thought that we would suffer a catastrophic defeat from the Hungarian team with amazing technique. And this belief of ours hardly diminished after the first goal. However, the situation was different with the Hungarians. The Hungarians underestimated us, they took victory for sure and this was their loss.
» In the second half, after the second goal, I already noticed that the Hungarian team was down, but I still could not imagine that they would lose to us, — to the unknown exotics. After a few minutes, the third goal sealed the fate of the Hungarians. The Hungarian team was crushed — and surrendered to its inevitable fate.
— Mr. Lieutenant! Who did you like best in the Hungarian team?
Salem: The right half-back, sir, and the inside left. (Orth and Hirzer, the names Salem did not confirm.) But the right half-back is the main one. The best Olympic player. He is a wonderful artist of the game of football. He does what he wants and how he wants with the ball.
— Did you see Uruguay play?
Salem: Yes.
— Who was the best player on the team? Here he goes without hesitation:
Salem: Andrade, the right half-back.
— Lieutenant, who do you think is the better player, Andrade or Ortho?
Salem: Sir, give us some time to think. That's right, and now we're even. Please, take notes:
» Andrade is a player of excellent ability. He has great lungs and is tireless. He has great technique, but no Orth. He doesn't have that perfect ball handling, he doesn't have that football art like your Orth has. Orth plays such perfect football that words cannot describe it. I have never seen such a football player in my life. But I couldn't even imagine until now that such a perfect football could be played at all.
— Thank you, lieutenant! Thank you, but may I ask one more question? Who do you think is better, the Hungarian eleven in Paris or the Austrian team?
Salem: Hungarians, of course! But I heard, the best Austrian team didn't play for us yesterday. However, we were also strongly reserved today, we did not play with a full team, as we did against the Hungarians. And then this was our fifth game in nine days, and as you know, we danced until midnight yesterday. We couldn't get rid of the charming Viennese ladies, and we didn't want to either.
» We are negotiating a rematch with the Austrians and we definitely believe that we can beat the complete Austrian team with a full team.
He said these words calmly, slowly and self-consciously, It was clear that he believed what he was saying, even though I dared to doubt his prediction. Salem's eyes, fiery, black Nubian eyes, flashed:
» You'll see it and then you'll believe it.
— A few more words about the Swedes — I told Salem.
Salem: The Swedish team is weak, they play very weak football.
— And yet they got away with it.
Salem: It's true, we lost, but only because it was raining and freezing cold, and we Africans, who are used to the hot climate, simply cannot play in such weather.
Smiling, he held out his hand:
Salem:Are you satisfied with me? If so, let me dance!
In the next minute, he was already holding a Viennese beauty in his arms and cheerfully dancing the most modern pase-doublet.