Mohamed Zidan knows all about goals – scoring them, celebrating them too much and not celebrating them at all.
The charismatic Egyptian is on a record-breaking goalscoring run that shows no sign of ending. Sold by Borussia Dortmund on the best of terms by his old friend and mentor Jürgen Klopp, Zidan became the first ever winter signing to score in his first four games for a new club. Strikes against Schalke, Hannover, Hoffenheim and Kaiserslautern steered Mainz 05 away from the relegation zone.
Game Five at Mainz was a trip back to Dortmund, where he spent three happy, if injury-hit, seasons.
Surely The Other Zidan dreamt of scoring a magic five for the 05ers? Not a bit of it.
”The best thing would be if we win and I do not score,” a teary-eyed Zidan told a bemused press conference before last Saturday’s match. ”If I score I will not celebrate. I have far too much respect for this club, Jürgen, my former team-mates and the fans.”
Klopp played along with the theatre.
”I have told him that, in the unlikely scenario that he does score, he is allowed to raise his arms and celebrate,” said the Dortmund coach.
Come kickoff, Zidan looked like getting one half of his wish. League leaders Dortmund, seeking a club record eighth consecutive win, tore Mainz apart. Shinji Kagawa dragged visiting defenders left and right, Robert Lewandowski proved unplayable, while Zidan hardly got a touch.
But the champions only had a Jakub Blaszczykowski goal to show for their efforts when the unthinkable happened.
Dortmund failed to clear a long punt and Zidan, clearly forgetting his pre-match sentiments, slammed the ball in.
The goal shouldn’t have been a surprise: Zidan once scored 14 seconds into a match against his old club Werder Bremen for Dortmund.
In scoring, Zidan broke his own record as the Bundesliga’s most prolific ever winter signing with five goals in five games from the start of a calendar year. He is also the first player to score in his opening five games for a new club since Fredi Bobic for Stuttgart in 1994.
Still, Zidan looked more like he was attending a wake than setting a goalscoring record and seemed relieved when Kagawa scored the winner for Dortmund.
Not that the heavily-tattooed Mainz man needs lessons in celebrating goals.
Just days after the defeat at Dortmund, the German Football Federation slapped him with a 6,000 euro fine for unsporting behaviour during the match against Kaiserslautern a week earlier.
Zidan, delighted to return to the modest club where he previously scored 22 goals in 41 goals, had already provoked visiting Kaiserslautern fans after scoring a classy opener.
But after the hosts had sealed a 4-0 win, Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel’s biggest ever Bundesliga win, Zidan wasn’t content to milk the adulation of the home fans. Instead, he joined them, grabbing a loud hailer and letting the visiting fans know exactly what he thought of them and their team in the strongest terms.
Bundesliga fans know Zidan is a player of contradictions.
In Germany or at home, controversy is nothing new to the man who left his native Egypt as a teenager dreaming of the big time.
Some Egyptian fans still haven’t forgiven Zidan for apparently snubbing his country at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations. Zidan insists his absence was the result of an administration error on the part of the country’s FA, but many who have overlooked that incident haven’t forgiven Zidan for his apparent support of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.
Wherever he plays it seems two things will follow Zidan till the end of his career — goals and controversy.
This weekend’s LIVE Bundesliga action gets underway Friday with Stuttgart v Kaiserslautern (20:30). Don’t miss Saturday’s action, Bayern Munich against Hoffenheim (15:30) and Augsburg v Dortmund (18:30). Then on Sunday we have two live matches: Bremen v Hannover and Schalke v Hamburg. Highlights of all matches at 19:30 on Sunday. Coverage in North and East Europe.