Tewfik Abdullah


July 5, 2022

Tewfik Abdullah (also Tawfik Abdallah and variations, Arabic توفيق عبد الله, DMG Tawfīq ʿAbd Allāh; born June 23, 1896 in Cairo, Egypt, † 1950) was an Egyptian football player who spent most of his career in England and the United States.


Abdullah played as a striker at Cairo International Sports Club, also Nady El Qāhirah El Mokhtalat in Arabic, trading as Zamalek SC since 1952. He was a member of the Egyptian national team that took part in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. There he was used in both games of the Egyptians. After a narrow 2-1 draw against Italy in the first round, Yugoslavia was beaten 4-2 in the consolation round, taking eighth place. Derby County Scottish player Tommy Barbour met Abdullah while stationed in Cairo with the Derbyshire Yeomanry during World War I. There he played as half right of an Egyptian national team against a British military selection. Barbour recommended Abdullah to his club and after auditioning for the reserve team in mid-September 1920 and "delighting the spectators immensely" he was signed a week later. Abdullah thus became the second Egyptian in professional English football after Hussein Hegazi, who played for Dulwich Hamlet in the Isthmian League, an amateur league, and also played for second division side Fulham FC in London in 1911, and also took part in the 1920 Olympics would have. Abdullah, whose first name Tewfik was soon corrupted into the nickname Toothpick, made his debut in a 3-1 home win against Manchester City on 9 October, scoring his side's first-half opener. This was Abdullah's only goal and win in 12 league games for the Rams. In the end, Derby County was relegated second to last. In the Second Division, in which Derby County finished 12th, Abdullah, who was described as very skilled if somewhat slow, made only three more appearances. For the 1922/23 season he joined Scottish second division side Cowdenbeath FC in a small town about 300km north-north-west of Edinburgh, who ended up eleventh. This transfer came at the recommendation of his teammate Willie Paterson, whose father Alex Paterson was a coach with the Scots. Abdullah soon broke his arm there, but otherwise played well and regularly there. In retrospect, Alex Paterson called him one of the "smartest footballers" he's ever met. At the end of the season it was initially said that he would go to America despite an offer to stay. Eventually, however, he switched to Bridgend Town AFC, 300km west of Cardiff in Wales, who would finish 13th in the Western Division of the Southern Football League. He played there until late February or early March 1924. In early March 1924 he returned to England, where he played for Hartlepools United in the Third Division North until early May. There he already scored a goal in the 4-0 debut against Wrexham. It was reported after the game that he had significantly increased the power of the Hartlepools storm and that he had gained significant weight and strength since leaving Derby County. He was considered a "lucky stroke", but in the end it was only enough for the penultimate place. For Abdullah, who played a total of eleven times, it was one goal. As a result of the expansion of the American Soccer League from eight to twelve teams for the 1924/25 season, the steady stream of British, especially Scottish soccer players to the USA increased. There, in addition to a place in the team, the players got a job, mostly in the factory of the team owner, what then