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Owner Assem Allam on torture, labouring and Hull Tigers

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Owner Assem Allam on torture, labouring and Hull Tigers
owner-assem-allam-on-torture-labouring-and-hull-tigers
Assem Allam should be the most popular http://www.nfl49ersofficialauthentic.com/Tramaine-Brock-Jersey man in Hull. But he isn't. Far from it. You have probably heard of the 75-year-old owner of Hull City. You may have read about him, too. He is the man who launched a thousand headlines after going public with his desire to alter the club's name to Hull Tigers, having viewed it as a more marketable brand. Some have labelled him a dictator, others call him crazy. But what about the man behind the bluster? Talk to those who know Dr Allam and a very different picture begins to emerge. He is, they say, generous to a fault, polite and kind. During the course of my conversations one employee tells me 'we'd all run through a brick wall for him'. It is a message that crops up time and again. But none of it tallies with the stereotype which has come to define him. How, though, does Allam see himself? "I'm a man of my word," he says. "I do what I say, I say what I do. There is nothing to me, other than what you see." He settles down into a leather chair, wearing a blue suit, with matching tie and pocket square. Beyond the vast windows of a panoramic room at the top of his factory, is the autumnal murk. The Humber Bridge is visible in the distance, as is the city which changed Allam's life after he and his family fled Egypt in the 1960s. On the wall behind us is a photograph of Steve Bruce celebrating promotion, flanked by Assem and his son, Ehab. Underneath are the words 'more powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin'. "I am not a football fan," he says with a smile. "I have never been a football fan. But I am a fan of our community, a fan of this city. I bought the club because I didn't want to see it die, I knew it would damage the community if the club failed. "Football is a big, big thing for the community here. I wanted to save the club." And so he did. With the accountancy firm Ernst & Young saying Hull could cease to exist were it to go into administration, Allam stepped in, against the advice of his advisors. With one £27m payment he cleared the debt and ensured Hull avoided a 10-point penalty that may have made relegation to League One a strong probability. "When I go to the stadium I watch the crowd more than the football," he says. "I go there to support the manager, to support the team. But I get the enjoyment of looking at the stadium full. I think about the achievement of giving the fans a nice day out on a Saturday and watching good quality football. And I feel good about it. "Now the community can watch good quality football. It can go to Wembley. It can go to Europe. There were many football fans, many children who would hear names like Rooney, Gerrard but they could not afford to go and see them. Now they come to their back garden. Now they see the best players in the country playing in Hull." There is pride in his voice, as he talks - emotion too, behind the hard exterior shell. Allam could never have predicted he would own an English football club as he grew up in Egypt. During his formative years, politics was his Ahmad Brooks Womens Jersey passion. But as a known critic of Colonel Nasser's ruthless dictatorship, it was not an easy time. "I was a very outspoken young man," says Allam. "Speaking out against Nasser was an act of madness. Imagine making a speech against Saddam Hussein at the height of his power in the centre of Baghdad? "That is what I used to do. They got tired of me, I was arrested, I had my share of torture. The marks remained on my body for many years. In the end, my family pushed me to get out of the country. I had to leave." A five-shilling train ride from King's Cross brought Allam, his wife and two daughters to Hull, where his sister had settled after marrying a doctor based at Castle Hill hospital on the outskirts of the city. "It was difficult," he says. "In Egypt, I had money, land. But I had to sell it all, convert it to dollars from the black market." At the time it was illegal to deal in foreign currency in Egypt, it was a crime that carried a life sentence. Allam knew it was a risk he had to take. "When I arrived in England I put that money in what was Midland Bank. "The following day the bank manager called and said 'all the money is fake'. I didn't cry. I don't have a habit of doing that. The bank gave my family £5 each. So we had £20 that was not fake." Over the course of the 46 years that have passed, Allam has turned that £20 into £320m, a fortune that placed him 10 places behind the Queen on the 2014 Sunday Times rich list. He estimates that he has put more than £70m into Hull City, but he has also donated more of his wealth to help fund a world-leading cancer research centre in the city and a new state-of-the-art university medical centre. A £100,000 investment into North Ferriby United has helped http://www.nfl49ersofficialauthentic.com/Blaine-Gabbert-Jersey provide coaching for hundreds of local juniors, while the family have put money towards junior football clubs, rugby clubs and have sponsored the British Squash Open, which is now hosted in Hull. Does he feel like a rich man? "Not really. It doesn't mean anything to me," he says. "I have lived in the same house since 1978. I have done one or two extensions but it's the same house. I didn't buy a mansion, a yacht or a private jet. I wanted to be able to do more for the community. I even bought my Rolls-Royce on hire-purchase. I want to put my money back in. To help if I can." Allam's £250,000 Rolls-Royce is parked outside, complete with unmistakable personalised number plate but he has never lived more than four miles from the ground having initially settled in the Cottingham area when he first arrived in 1968.

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