Adam Radwan is the speedy winger who could be the first Egyptian to play for England! The Newcastle star admits he nearly walked away from rugby but is now racing towards a call-up after becoming a box-office hit
- Newcastle’s Adam Radwan could have been born into a family tailoring business
- Instead he’s cutting his teeth as one of the most exciting stars in English rugby
- Radwan, whose father moved from Egypt, is pushing for an England call-up
Life could have turned out very differently for Adam Radwan. If his father had not moved over from Egypt in his 20s, the Newcastle winger would have been born into the family tailoring business.
‘They’re from Port Said, two hours from Cairo, just off the Suez Canal,’ he says. ‘When I was younger, we would visit four or five times a year. I always remember the pet tortoise they kept up in the roof… before it escaped!
‘It’s obviously a very different lifestyle there. They don’t have a clue about rugby. My grandad was a tailor, always making suits. My dad and my uncle both worked with him. I don’t think I’d have been much good at it!’
Newcastle winger Adam Radwan was nearly born into his family’s tailoring business
Radwan, whose father moved over from Egypt, is one of the brightest stars in English rugby
Instead, Radwan was born in a post office in the North Yorkshire village of Osmotherley.
‘Dad worked in the post office but it closed and turned into a cafe.
‘He’s a really good cook and he worked in restaurants for a while, but it was more pub grub than any Egyptian cuisine.’
With a nod to his family’s culinary roots in the North East, he adds: ‘I’d take a chicken parmo in Middlesbrough, every time!’
Rather than cutting cloth, Radwan has spent the last few seasons cutting his teeth as one of the most exciting wingers in English rugby. He is known to his team-mates by his ancestral middle name, Belal.
He was dealt a number of set-backs as a youngster and admits he came close to giving up
‘I started playing rugby at Middlesbrough and played there until I was 16,’ he says. ‘I only started because I was staying at a mate’s house and my dad couldn’t pick me up the next morning, so I went along to training.
‘Eventually I moved to Billingham, to play a little bit higher, and was picked up by Newcastle Under 18s but they released me. At one point, I was ready to pack it in.’
In spite of the setbacks, Radwan stood out because of his speed and was invited to an academy in Hartlepool. During those teenage years, he studied a BTEC in sport, as well as working as an after-school teaching assistant as part of his course.
‘I played a bit of sevens and I was actually in the airport about to fly to Kenya when Dean Richards phoned me up. He invited me to come in for a chat when I was back, and offered me a one-year deal.
‘I signed the same year as Toby Flood, who I’d grown up watching play for England. My uncle used to be a physio for West Hartlepool, so he loves rugby and drove us down to Twickenham to watch England a couple of times. I was there when they beat the All Blacks. I still find it pretty surreal to play alongside guys like Toby, to be honest.’
But Radwan’s speed made him stand out and is now one of the main attractions for Newcastle
Nowadays, Radwan is one of the star attractions at Kingston Park. His raw speed makes him a box-office attacker in the wide channels and he is quickly becoming a local favourite.
‘My dad was pretty quick, so I’ve got good genes. Growing up, I loved watching Bryan Habana because he was rapid. Lesley Vainikolo, too. When I joined Newcastle, Jonny May was always someone I wanted to play like. Fast, attacking rugby.
‘You always want to compare your speed to other players, but it’s difficult to really know what speeds they’re clocking. I’ve never timed myself over 100 metres but we look at the GPS data from matches. My top speed is 10.6 metres per second but the strength and conditioning guys have set me a target of getting that up to 11.
He is on the radar of England scouts and even had rugby league chiefs looking at him
Radwan admits his main goal is to play for England but is focusing on his club form for now
‘When I joined Newcastle, my running technique was horrendous. I had good leg speed but it wasn’t efficient. All of my gym work is tailored to power and speed.’
During his first season, a member of staff at Leeds Rhinos delivered a hand-written note to Radwan’s grandparents’ house, asking if he would be interested in switching to rugby league. England’s scouts, too, have discussed his ability and the 23-year-old could feature on the international scene this summer.
‘Obviously the big goal is to play for England,’ he says. ‘It’s in the back of your mind but I don’t want to get wrapped up in that thinking. If I play well for Newcastle every week then hopefully something will come off the back of that.’
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