About 25 years ago, most of the buildings and walls of Alexandria were decorated with enthusiastic catchy phrases written in green, the iconic colour of the city’s most beloved football club, Al Ittihad. They all were written by Gamal El-Dawly.
Residents of this beautiful city will always remember this man who spent his life in supporting Al Ittihad. Loyal fans of the club recognise El-Dawly by his green outfit, special turban, Al Ittihad’s scarf around his neck, and a whistle in his mouth. He used to carry an incense censer and wander in the streets of Alexandria, mainly Manshia market.
El-Dawly loved Al Ittihad to the extent of possession and supported it in the face of other major clubs of Cairo.
El-Dawly is known for his ludicrous remarks. He once decided to run for presidency during the Mubarak era. He publicly announced his presidential bid in front of the walls of the Abu Qir train, and then was arrested and placed in Al Mamoura Hospital for five months, before he changed his mind and decided to run for vice president. He also wanted to marry famous actress Laila Elwi, saying she was the girl of his dreams.
El-Dawly was not seeking attention, though he wanted to live in love. Before each match of Al Ittihad, he was keen to carry his censer and roam around the players to bless them, and then go to the highest place in the stadium and sit down next to the stadium’s clock, holding the censer.
When Al Ittihad lost a match, it drove him into a frenzy. Al Ittihad’s basketball team once lost to Al-Ahly in the Egypt Basketball Cup, and El-Dawly went crazy and took off all his clothes, in the presence of senior officials who attended the match that was broadcast live on state-run television.
El-Dawly had a unique character and loved Al Ittihad from the bottom of his heart without conditions.
The club’s deterioration in recent seasons did not prevent him from supporting the team in almost all occasions, maintaining his unchanged habits. He kept expressing his philosophy of love on the walls and buildings of Alexandria with words showing his sincere fondness of the club.
El-Dawly remained an icon of Al Ittihad fans until he surprisingly disappeared from the scene, leaving his words, not only on the walls, but also engraved in the hearts of Al Ittihad fans.