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SWINDON TOWN: El Gabas fulfilling England dream
SWINDON Town’s new Egyptian striker Mohamed El Gabas is following his dream by returning to play football in England, six years after leaving these shores having been denied a work permit.
El Gabas, who on Saturday signed a short-term deal at the County Ground until January, was offered a professional contract by Newcastle United after emerging through their youth programme in 2007, only to be denied the chance to ply his trade in the Premier League by Home Office officials.
It was a bitter blow to the 25-year-old and one which is evidently still very raw today, but now as the holder of a Belgian passport, having married a native when on the books of Lierse SK, he does not have anything standing in his way of pursuing his dream and fighting his way back to the English top flight.
“My dream from the time I left Newcastle was to come and play again in England. When I went to Europe, through Belgium, I was doing well but I was trying to find any offers in the Championship and in the Premier League but I couldn’t find a good deal,” he said.
“I’ve got the opportunity to come here and I thought ‘why not?’ It’s a step closer to my big dream to play in the Premier League.
“It was very disappointing for me because it was a big thing to start my career in Newcastle, so from the time I left it was my big dream to play in England again.
“I couldn’t do it from the Championship or Premier League, but maybe with Swindon I can follow my dream.”
El Gabas has been impressed by the setup at Swindon in the brief time he has been involved with the County Ground outfit.
“They have a good system of playing football here, not just kick and rush, so if I do well I can go on my next step,” he said.
“I’ve only been here two days. I like it very much. It’s a nice city, a nice club, all the people who work here have welcomed me – the coach, the players, the staff and the board. It’s a family club, it feels like everyone is close to each other and there is a nice spirit in the team.
“I’m very happy that I’m back in England with a team who has a big history and is a big club in League One.
“Everybody knows Swindon and appreciates the club and I can’t wait to make my first appearance.”
The frontman only started his trial with the Robins on Thursday, but his performance in a training match on Friday - in which he bagged three goals in 15 minutes - hastened the club’s urgency in signing him.
“The first day I came late because there was a problem with the people coming to pick us up, so I only got 30 minutes of training,” he said.
“On the second day the manager played 11 versus 11 on a small pitch for 20 or 30 minutes and I think I did good. I scored three goals, but that’s not important. What’s important is I score these goals in competition.”
El Gabas turned down the offer of a new contract with Lierse and opportunities elsewhere in Europe to join Town, and he is looking forward to promoting himself in England again after a six-year hiatus.
“It was my decision. I had an offer to renew my contract but I didn’t do it because I wanted to challenge myself and have a new challenge. I hope I have made the right decision,” he said.
“I had two other opportunities in Europe, in good leagues, but my target was to go and play in England. All my concentration was to look for something in the Premier League or in the Championship.
“With the Championship there were some clubs that were interested but they are not the clubs that I can show I can play well.
“I could have gone to other places but I refused them and chose this.”
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