Muscat: Muscat: All-round praises have started to pour in, after legendary Omani goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was voted the Reading Football Club (FC) Player of the Year, for the second consecutive year.
Delighted on being named the Player of the Season, since joining from Wigan Athletic in 2015, Al Habsi, thanked his fans for their support. “By the grace of God, I have been chosen the best player of the season for Reading FC for the second year in a row. Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the award process, after what has been a special season. It’s been a great competition between the players,” he said.
Reading FC was quick to sound out their support for Al Habsi. “Thrilled for Oman’s Ali Al Habsi for winning the Player of The Season award for the second time in a row!” the club tweeted. “His performances, commitment, professionalism, and humility make him loved by everyone.”
Back home, Al Habsi’s family was equally elated over his recognition. “It is a great achievement for Ali Al Habsi, and it is a source of inspiration for all those who love football in Oman, whether it is the players or the fans,” said his brother, Ahmed Al Habsi, who was also a former board member and General Secretary of the Oman Football Association.
“For a goalkeeper to win this award is extremely difficult, and that Ali has done it not once, but twice in a row, is a testament to his dedication and commitment, both on and off the pitch,” he added.
Chuck Martini, the Head Coach of the Muscat Football Academy, also heaped praise on Al Habsi’s achievements.“For Ali Al Habsi to win that award shows just how skilled he is, even at that age. When he goes out there and plays for Reading, he’s not just representing Oman, but the rest of the MiddleEast, as well, so it’s an achievement all of us must be proud of,” said Martini, a former goalkeeper for Leicester City and Morocco’s national football team.
“Obviously, it’s a result that’s going to act as an inspiration to all the young players in Oman, and I am sure they will take heart from what he has done in England,” added the former AFC Wimbledon Academy goalkeeping coach.
Andrew Watson, Technical Manager for the Al Habsi Football School based in Muscat, touted Al Habsi’s win as an inspiration for many. “The response among the children has been exactly what we thought it would be, and they are so excited to see their idol receive this award. To so many Omanis, Al Habsi is a household name and a hero, so they are now all the more inspired to follow in his footsteps,” pointed out Watson.
Reading FC, managed by former Ajax and Manchester United legend Jaap Stam, finished third in the league, qualifying for a play-off spot in the Championship. This means Al Habsi could once again rub shoulders with the English Premier League’s big names next season. “It’s a fantastic result that's put us in a great position in the play-offs,” said Al Habsi.
Al Habsi beat out defender Liam Moore and striker Yann Kermorgant to win the award.The 35-year-old received the award from Reading FC Co-chairman John Madejski, as well as a commemorative shield from Paul Ellix, the Chairman of the Supporters’ Trust At Reading (STAR), the club’s official supporter fan base.