Mohamed Salah's very own Kop chant has received a special seal of approval – from the band whose melody is used to celebrate Liverpool's prolific forward.
Mo Salah, Mo Salah, Mo Salah… running down the wing!
Salah, la, la, la, laaaaa… the Egyptian King!
How many times have you heard that this season?
Tim Booth’s ears first caught the tune, re-versioned by Reds fans from the chorus of his band James’ No.2 hit Sit Down, ‘three or four months ago’.
“It became clear that if we were going to do a gig near Liverpool we better not play Sit Down or it would turn into something other than what we were anticipating,” he told Liverpoolfc.com with a laugh.
The singer and lyricist’s primary football allegiance has long been to Leeds United, but his appreciation for Liverpool’s style of play under Jürgen Klopp – and Salah’s artistry on the pitch – means the terrace ditty exists with his absolute blessing.
“It’s a witty song,” says Booth.
“Liverpool supporters have always been some of the best in the world; as a neutral, they’ve always been the fans I’ve respected the most because they get behind the team no matter what.
“I’ve always had a good soft spot for Liverpool and their ability to find a witty song – so, great, they can have it.
“We’ve been precious with Sit Down. We know it means a lot to people and we’ve stopped a lot of adverts or people using it in ways that we felt might denigrate it.
“But one of the greatest footballers in the world can have it, when he’s playing such beautiful football it’s a pleasure.”
Salah’s record-breaking goalscoring exploits throughout his debut Reds season have ensured the song receives an airing at almost every Liverpool match.
With one game to go in 2017-18 – the small matter of the Champions League final in Kiev on Saturday night – the No.11’s tally stands at 44.
For Booth, the Egyptian is an embodiment of what makes football the compelling sport it is. In fact, he sees Salah’s footwork as a form of dance.
“On his day, at the moment, he is challenging [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo,” the 58-year-old continues.
“Let’s see if he can keep it going for five years to really make you think he’s one of the world’s greats. But on his day he is beautiful; he’s got that ability to pause when everybody else would panic, and to make a decision that nobody else would make. That’s the thing all the greatest players have.
“He’s a team player who is also a genius. He knows when to pass and knows when to go for goal. That player, to my mind, is why I watch football. It’s that selflessness, as well as the beauty of the dancer.
“He is a dancer who is selfless and plays for the team.”
Klopp is the conductor of the Liverpool symphony, of course.
And with Leeds’ travails forcing Booth to become ‘less tribal’ and instead objectively drawn to the football he finds most attractive, the Reds have quickly grasped his attention.
“You can’t not love the man and you can’t help but see the camaraderie and unity he engenders in the team and how they love him,” he argues.
“I’ve been watching Liverpool a lot for the last year or so because they’re about the most entertaining team to watch. Especially after they sold [Philippe] Coutinho and seeing he actually got them to play better without him, it’s quite remarkable.
“You’ve got the best manager basically; you’ve got a manager who can take players and really improve them by a lot. There aren’t many managers out there doing that.
“Liverpool’s ethos is: everybody plays for the team. That’s what I’ll be rooting for [in Saturday’s final] and it’ll be a joy to watch. I’m very happy that one of our songs will be a soundtrack and maybe an aid to inspire that.”
Booth’s affection for the club pre-dates Klopp and Salah considerably, however.
An incident during a gig in the city shortly before the release of Sit Down foreshadowed Anfield’s appropriation of a tune Liverpool fans will hope to use once again in Kiev.
“We were playing at the Royal Court and Larry’s guitar string broke in the middle of the song,” he recalls.
“I said, ‘drop the song down while Larry gets a new guitar string’ and we dropped it down to a hover. The song hadn’t been released – so this was word of mouth – and the audience started to sing Sit Down.
“It got louder and louder and we stopped playing and just stood there listening. It went on for about four minutes. That was the first time it ever happened to us.
“Your willingness to sing as a city culture was clearly there, so you’ve earned it and you’ve chosen the right player to attach it to from our point of view. So, thank you.”
James’ new album, Living in Extraordinary Times, will be released on August 3 and the band will be performing live throughout the summer. Click here to visit their official website.