After over a decade of playing for Zamalek and Egypt, Hazem’s reward comes in the form of a chant echoed by thousands of his club fans saying: "Enough, enough Hazem enough," in a reference to the 32-year-old midfield magician to retire.
Emam came on as a late substitute in Zamalek’s 1-0 defeat against Ismaili in the Egyptian league opener on Monday.
But the player who once wooed the fans with every touch of the ball suddenly turned into the culprit after his first miss-pass.
It was as if all of the frustration of Zamalek’s fans from the three years of failure was suddenly poured on the charismatic captain.
To everyone’s surprise, after the final whistle, Emam took a lap around the Cairo International Stadium and applauding the same fans who were crushing his very soul before taking off his shirt and gesturing that he will in fact retire.
So far, no one knows whether Emam will stick to his decision or not, but at the end of the day, it’s his decision to make and no one else.
It is true that the once prolific playmaker has lost his magic and turned into a fringe player by the technical staff, not to mention that he is getting weaker and more injury prone, yet he remains the team captain and inspiration.
He remains the player who put a smile on the faces of millions of Egyptians and who has played his heart out for club and country.
What a disgrace to see fans turn on this decent player like that. Is that how we treat our role models now in Egypt?
These actions on part of Zamalek’s fans towards their team captain come only to reflect the state of mind and morals of the Egyptian society in recent years, and I will not elaborate on that comment.
It would really be a shame if that was the way that Emam ended his career with Zamalek, being booed off by his own fans. What a difference between that scene in Cairo International Stadium and the one at Anfield when Robbie Fowler played his last game for Liverpool last season.
Zamalek’s board, players and fans have to find a way to return Emam’s lost pride before this isolated incident turns into a recurring one in Egypt, a society once known to respect its elders, role models and people of caliber.