CNN  — 

Mohamed Salah could scarcely be happier.

A Champions League winner with Liverpool, a Premier League and international superstar and a hero to millions across the world, Salah’s popularity continues to soar. So much so that this year he was one of six TIME 100 cover stars, the magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people.

“I’m happy at Liverpool,” Salah told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an exclusive interview. “I’m happy in the city – I love the fans and they love me. I’m happy at the club.”

And yet, for all the success, there is still one snag nagging him – his relationship with the national football association of his beloved Egypt.

Mohamed Salah of Egypt kisses the ball before scoring from the penalty spot during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Such has been the tempestuous nature of the relationship that there had even been reports last year that Salah was ready to give up playing for his country following a series of rows with the Egyptian Football Association.

Though hugely critical of the EFA and its perceived failings, the 27-year-old Salah says the opportunity to inspire future generations to play for their country remains at the heart of his ambition.

“I love this country from my heart,” Salah said of Egypt. “It’s always in my mind. Something pushed me forward to perform, to be iconic for the kids, to be like a dream for the kids to one day be like me.

“I want to be that person, so to just retire from the national team is huge for me.”

Salah inspired Egypt to victory in the 2017 African Cup of Nations but could not pull off a repeat on home soil.

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After winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Salah turned his attention to playing for the national team at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

According to Salah, what transpired at AFCON left him hugely frustrated at the politicking that is going on.

He accused the EFA of being in “competition” with him, hitting out at the lack of security afforded to players at the team hotel, while claiming grievances taken to the governing body were ignored.

Ahmed Shobair, the deputy head of the EFA, denied the accusations, insisting the players and the hotel was isolated from the public.

“These are the same accusations we heard from him (Salah) during the World Cup,” Shobair told CNN.

“Compared to the alleged mistakes of the World Cup, the African Cup of Nations’ training camp was extremely disciplined,” he added.

Shobair and the rest of the EFA board members resigned in July in response to public anger for Egypt’s performance in the African Cup.

Mohamed Salah is marked by South Africa's midfielder Dean Furman (R) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Egypt and South Africa.

“I think with the federation, it was a bit like a competition,” Salah told CNN.

“Who’s the winner? And for me, I will never be a winner because I’m a player. So, when I come to tell you something, you have to know that I’m telling you just because I want to be happy … to get something for the national team, to do something more for the national team.

“It’s not just that I’m telling you because I’m showing you that I’m powerful, I’m not powerful there. And believe me, if I’m powerful there, I could have changed a lot of things.”

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 01: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool lifts the Champions League Trophy following the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Mo Salah: UCL is 'biggest competition'
02:08 - Source: CNN

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Egypt, which hosted the 2019 tournament, had been expected to challenge for the title but was shocked by South Africa in the last 16, leading to EFA President Hany Abo Rida resigning from his position and coach Javier Aguirre losing his job.

Salah, who has endured a frosty relationship with the EFA over the past few years – largely stemming over an image rights dispute and his criticism of the team’s league’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia – was particularly critical of the EFA’s failure to protect players from the general public in the team hotel during the recent tournament

Salah (L) is marked by South Africa's midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch.

And, during the recent AFCON tournament in Egypt, Salah said the ease