On 25 February 1907, Amine Samy chose the name 'Ahly' for the newly founded club to fit with its purpose. It started out as an Egyptian Limited Liability Company with a capital of 5000 EGP. The club's first chairman was an English man named Mitchell Ince, who facilitated the foundation of the club and issued planning permissions for the land it owned. In the year 1922, electricity was connected to the club's headquarters for the first time to replace gasoline in a major project that cost 52 EGP at the time.
Three years later, the club's congress decided to make membership exclusive to Egyptians, earning them the title of 'the people's club'. From these humble origins, Al Ahly have attracted a large number of followers all over Africa, and claim to have over 50 million supporters, making them one of the most popular clubs in the world.
The club also has a reputation for being one of the most organised and sophisticated in the Middle East, adopting a high moral stance in its business dealings. For this reason it is known as 'the club of values' – a phrase initially coined by the club's all-time idol and former president Saleh Selim.
Al Ahly began to dominate the Egyptian game in the 1940s. In the 1980s the club became successful on a continental level, winning the African Cup of Champions Clubs in 1982 and 1987. They triumphed again in the renamed competition in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008 under the coaching of the Portuguese Manuel José and 2012, then finally 2013 making them the most crowned team in Africa, with 8 Champions League titles, four Cup-Winners' Cups, six Super Cups and one Afro-Asian Club Championship. In 2001, Al Ahly celebrated their crowning of club of the century in Africa by facing the European club of the century Real Madrid which Al Ahly won 1–0
Al Ahly was the first club to reach the FIFA Club World Cup twice following two consecutive appearances in 2005 and 2006 then in 2012 and 2013 winning the Bronze Medal in 2006, becoming the first African club to win a medal in the competition. After qualifying for the 2013 edition, Al Ahly became the team with the most appearances in the FIFA Club World Cup, having qualified for 5 times out of 10 competitions.
Al Ahly supporters were targeted in a post-match riot at Port Said Stadium in February 2012 which resulted in numerous deaths (74) . In 2012, Al-Ahly and Al-Zamalek Ultras opposed the FA's decision to resume the League tournament, and made this clear by staging dozens of protests.
Al Ahly has had three crests in its history. The first, adopted in 1907, lasted until the 1952 Revolution. The second crest was used from 1952 until 2007, when the club unveiled a new design to commemorate Al Ahly's first century of existence. The club's main colours, red, white as well as the flying eagle are derived from Egypt's flag during the Khedives era.
The current crest has 3 stars on top of it representing 30+ Egyptian Premier League trophies (each 10 trophies = 1 star), and 8 stars at the bottom representing 8 CAF Champions League trophies.
Al Ahly's home kit, since the club's founding, has always been the familiar red shirt with white shorts. The team's away kit is the dark blue shirt with dark blue shorts, although the team formerly played with white shorts in the away kit. The old away kit used until the 90s was a green shirt with white shorts and green socks. In 2008, Al Ahly unveiled their third kit for the first time since the club's founding. It was first used in a match against bitter rivals Zamalek SC. The kit is composed of Ahly's home shirt and black shorts. It is still currently in use as a third kit and is still worn by the team in all Al-Ahly versus Zamalek Derbies. This is due to the fact that Zamalek SC wears a white home kit, with two red stripes on the shirt. If Al-Ahly wore their home kit in the derby matches, there would be only a small difference in the shirt colour and no difference in the shorts' colour.
Al Ahly formerly played their home games at their own ground, Mokhtar El-Tetsh Stadium, but its capacity was too small for the club's support. As a consequence, Al-Ahly now play their home ties at the Cairo International Stadium. Before seats were added to all sections in 2005, the stadium was notorious for holding more people than it was intended to. Cairo Stadium has a record of hosting over 120,000 fans in Egypt vs Cameroon match in 1986.
Al Ahly has an "ultras" fan group. Ultras Ahlawy is based in Cairo and is the largest ultras group in Africa while Ultras Devils is based in Alexandria and has members from other coastal cities near Alexandria. Despite having several fan groups, they all support the team from the stadium's North gate.
2005 represented an especially unique season in Ahly's illustrious history. The team would go on to set an unprecedented record of going an entire season being unbeaten in almost all possible competitions. 46 matches were played in the Egyptian Premier League, Egyptian Cup, Egyptian Super Cup and CAF Champions League, with Ahly remaining unbeaten in all of them (as well as winning all 4 trophies). This feat has yet to be emulated. The club only lost 1 match, in the FIFA Clubs World Cup (16 Dec.).
2006 also is considered one of the best seasons for Al Ahly as they were able to win the Egyptian domestic league, Egyptian domestic cup, Egyptian Super Cup, CAF Champions League, CAF Super Cup along with the bronze medal of FIFA Club World Cup to collect an unprecedented set of trophies that year.
Al Ahly has developed into more than a club over the years. After Al Ahly's original club in Gezira (in Zamalek district), Al-Ahly founded two more clubs, one in Nasr City and one in 6 October City (still under construction); the three of them continuously utilise skilled youth talents day-by-day. Al-Ahly historically formed the first ever TV channel belonging to a club in Africa, Al-Ahly TV. The channel went through great success since its formation, winning Egyptian sports TV channel of the year 2010 award from AlAhram newspaper. Al Ahly also became the first club in Africa (second in Middle-East after Al-Hilal KSA) to form an official store chain, Al-Ahly Official Stores in Nasr City and other locations around Cairo.
Al Ahly had only one non-Egyptian president, he was the first, Mitchell Ince. The club was created for revolutionary purposes, to unite the youth of the country, especially university students, versus the English colonization, but due to the country rules at that time, the club should have had an English president.
Gaafar Waly Pacha, 19 years, the club icon, El Maestro, Saleh Selim, 18, and Hassan Hamdy, 12, were the only presidents more than 10 years in office. Saleh Selim was the first to apply the maximum presidential term length of 2 rounds in the club. It was not followed since, till the rules of the Ministry of Sports were manipulated in 2013 to enforce the maximum presidential term length.