Muscat: Oman could very well have its own Lionel Messi in the years to come, if Tariq Al Sadi is able to fulfil his potential.
The Muscat Football Academy forward signed a three-year development contract with English Championship side Aston Villa, after spending a year with fellow British side Birmingham City FC.
Tariq also had a trial with Premier League side Manchester City, but after careful thought and consideration, he and his father Khalifa decided to sign for the Midlands side instead.
“Our very own Tariq Al Sadi has signed a three-year contract with English Championship side Aston Villa FC,” said his father. “We wish him all the very best, and it is our duty to inform you that Tariq’s success is also the success of the Muscat Football Academy and its coach.”
MFA head coach Chuck Martini was ecstatic to see another of his players follow his footballing dreams.
“It has been a big craze in Oman, Tariq signing for Aston Villa,” remarked former Leicester City goalkeeper Martini. “Let’s hope he becomes bigger than Ali Al Habsi himself, because from what I saw, and in terms of talent, he is a little Messi. To be quite honest, he is the real deal. When I had him here, he was such a joy to work with, and he is such a coachable lad, extremely talented — and I mean extremely talented — and I would not use these words lightly, but this boy has got a bundle of tricks and skills that will amaze anybody.
“As he was my find, I am so proud of what he is doing and what he has achieved at the moment,” added the former Morocco international, who represented his nation on four occasions. “Tariq was in England for the last year and a half. The last season he was with us, he scored some 45 to 50 goals, and he ended up being the top scorer in a tournament at Dubai Sports City, where he was in a face-off against former Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado’s Spanish Soccer School outfit. At the Dubai Super Cup, he ended up winning the Most Valuable Player award,” revealed Martini.
Tariq received plenty of offers to sign with other clubs in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but Martini knew there were bigger and brighter things for him on the horizon.
“At that time, there was plenty of interest from Al Wasl club in Dubai, but I told his father not to make any hasty decisions and wait for something better to come along, which obviously has now,” reiterated Martini, who was part of the Morocco squad during the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
“He may be a small lad, playing in the under-10s when he left us, and although, there may be some really big players in the under-11s, especially in Europe, Tariq is very well balanced with both his left and right foot, and he is also very strong and aggressive when he wants to be.”
Before setting up the Muscat Football Academy, Martini was the manager of non-league United Kingdom sides such as Godalming Town and Waltham and Hersham FC, in addition to being the youth academy coach at AFC Wimbledon. “When he has the ball, it is really difficult to take it from him, and he is a very special player in the sense that he is also a coach’s dream,” noted Martini. “He will bring something to any team, because a lot of teams do not have that certain individualist creator who can create chances and take goals well.”