"Me and Mo Salah are both from Egypt, both work in Liverpool and are same height... the only difference is the salary"
Liverpool fans left Anfield after last month's 3-1 victory against Newcastle in buoyant mood. Their team had just made it five wins in a row to start the Premier League campaign, Mo Salah was on the score sheet and the sun was shining over the club as well as the city.
Supporters in the main stand shouted "Get in, Mo" and "Nice one, Mo" as they made their way down the escalators towards the exits. And they were doing so in the direction of Mahmoud Ahmed, a 39-year-old steward who drew a striking resemblance to the Egyptian striker.
"Me and Mo Salah are both from Egypt, both work in Liverpool, have the same hair and are same height - the only difference is the salary," he told SPORTbible over a coffee the week after that Newcastle game.
Mahmoud was raised in the Egyptian town of Qena - 470 miles south of Salah's home city Nagrig. He moved to Merseyside in March, 2010 with his wife and daughter Jasmine, 9, and works as a chef at Lebanese restaurant Bakchich in Liverpool's city centre. The youngest of three brothers, Mahmoud grew up supporting Egyptian side Al Ahly and began following Liverpool's fortunes in 2008.
He was made up when national hero Salah joined Liverpool in 2017 and applied to be a matchday steward earlier this year. He recalled: "The interview was at Anfield. When I went inside the office, all the managers thought I was Mo Salah and took pictures with me. The last match that was here, the boss of my company (StadiumTM) said 'Hi Mo'.
"The place I work in now, everyone sees me and thinks I'm Mo Salah and they have a picture with me," he added. "I like it, but sometimes people take the piss and they want more than one photo and something for Instagram."
Mahmoud's first game as a steward at Anfield was Liverpool's dramatic 2-1 win against Tottenham in March when Toby Alderweireld scored an own-goal in injury time. And, like most Liverpool fans, the night he'll never forget was the Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.
Trailing 3-0 after the first leg, Liverpool needed to pull off one of the all-time great turnarounds to reach the final in Madrid. Even for a team with so many memorable comebacks and famous European nights, that evening in May surpassed anything in their history. Two goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and a double from Divock Origi put Liverpool into the Champions League final and had Anfield rocking.
"That was crazy," Mahmoud recalled. "It was the best match I've ever seen. After we won, everyone kissed me that day. I cancelled my flight to Egypt because I was due to fly before the Barcelona match but I wanted to see the game. I don't know why but I had a belief that Liverpool would score four goals and win."
Jurgen Klopp's men went on to win their sixth European Cup with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham at Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Over 700,000 fans turned out for the trophy parade in Liverpool the next day to paint the town red and celebrate their team's success. Mahmoud wore a red Liverpool shirt, and drew much attention from supporters, but he was also spotted by Reds goalkeeper Alisson. The Brazilian shot-stopper uploaded a video to his Instagram story of him pointing at Mahmoud among the sea of Liverpool supporters as the open-top bus passed through the streets.
Mahmoud has never met Salah, and is not sure how he'd react if he came face to face with his hero. "If I meet him, I will run," he laughed. "I will be shy.
"He is a superstar. He is a more than a hero. He is representing the country as much as he's playing for himself. Not just for Muslim people, even for Christian people. In Egypt I live in a place where even Christian people follow Mo Salah. All the children buy Salah shirts from the markets. My family, kids, all of them have Mo Salah shirts, even if they're not Liverpool shirts, they write it on. He's a hero in all Arabic countries."