The news came as a surprise to many on Thursday May 17, when one of Egypt’s table tennis stars, El-Sayed Lashin quit the Egyptian national team.

The 38-year-old Bachelor’s degree holder in Logistics from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport ended his more than two decades with the team.

Having made his international debut in 1996, El-Sayed Lashin represented Egypt at several Continental Championships, All African Games and Olympic Games; he is two-time winner of the Francophone Games and a triple champion of the African Cup, El-Sayed Lashin believes it is time to give the upcoming players chance to be part of the team.

“I believe this is the best time to retire but I will continue playing as a player for clubs as much as I can but for international career it is better to give chance to my brothers in the national team,” he said.

He described his active years with the team as rewarding. “It was a big honour to be part of Egyptian national team and at this period that this set of Egypt table tennis generation now leads Africa and maintain a good place in the map of world table tennis,” El-Sayed Lashin said.

For El-Sayed Lashin, there was never any regret. “Of course I did not have any regret representing my country because it is pleasure to be a part of the team particularly with all the generations that I played for over 20 years,”

But the memory will linger on in the mind of El-Sayed Lashin. “I will forever cherish every moment in the colours of Egypt because every success we had together, we did it together particularly the third place finish at the 2013 World Team Cup in Guangzhou, China.”

Apart from featuring for the national team, El-Sayed Lashin admitted that table tennis added colour to his life. “Table tennis makes my life better and more organized,” he said.

For now, he still wants to enjoy the sport. “I am yet to decide whether I am going into coaching but for now I still love to play. I am still playing because I have not retired from table tennis as it is at the national team level that I retire. But I will do my best to continue at club level as I love to be player.”

For El-Sayed Lashin’s compatriot – Omar Assar, the team would surely miss the legend.

Reacting to El-Sayed Lashin’s retirement, the Germany-based star said: “Thank you captain. Thank you for your long journey with the team filled with tournaments and achievements. I am sure you are surely proud of all that you have reached thanks to our Lord and your diligence.”

“You are the first Egyptian and Arab player to enter the list of 100 on the world, and it was a great inspiration for players to do better. I am sure that the main motive for the retirement is to give opportunity for younger players and it’s a very brave step that only real men take,” the African champion said.

Omar Assar however, charged the Egyptian Table Tennis Federation (ETTF) to honour the efforts of El-Sayed Lashin. “My message to the ETTF is that it is important to honour El-Sayed Lashin for all that he has given to Egypt in the last 20 years. This is a decent honour, considering his wealth of experience will be useful and to teach Egyptian players on how to turn table tennis from hobby to being professional.”

He added: “I would love to thank you very much for many different things, but always my respect for you increases day-by-day I wish you all the best in the league and I am sure you will be a successful coach as you are a very good example.”