Accolades pour in for retiring Oman legend Ali Al Habsi

Sports Saturday 22/August/2020 17:02 PM
By: Times News Service
Accolades pour in for retiring Oman legend Ali Al Habsi

Muscat: Former colleagues of Omani goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi have only good things to say about the veteran footballer, following his decision to retire from the sport.
38-year-old Al Habsi’s decision to retire came following the end of the 2019-2020 English Football Championship season, which saw his last club, West Bromwich Albion, secure a return to the Premier League after finishing second.
“After years in which I had the honour to represent a number of clubs, today, I announce the end of my career as a football player,” he said. “I express my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout my career, confirming my continued service to my country.”
The first Arab from the GCC to play in the Premier League, Al Habsi played in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic. He also featured for English sides Reading FC, in addition to West Bromwich.
“A fantastic representative of our club during your five years with us, Ali!” said a statement from Wigan Athletic. “Over 150 appearances with so many special saves and memories! We wish you well in the future and hope to see you again soon!”
“Happy retirement, Ali, and all the best in the future,” said Bolton Wanderers. “Thanks for your efforts during your time with Wanderers.”
Reading FC said: “Two years Player of the Season, one Ali Al Habsi! A fantastic career. Enjoy your retirement.”
Following his departure from England, Al Habsi joined Saudi club Al Hilal in 2017 after which he signed for West Brom in 2019. With Al Hilal, he won the Saudi Professional League, and the Saudi Super Cup, adding to his FA Cup triumph with Wigan when they stunned Manchester City in the 2013 final.
He was also part of the Oman team that won the country’s first ever Arabian Gulf Cup in 2009, having also been a runner-up in 2004 and 2007. He represented the Sultanate on 135 occasions.
Al Habsi’s former teammate, Mike Pollitt, who was also a goalie at Wigan alongside him, said, “Best of luck my friend, one of the nicest guys I have met in football. I’m sure you will be a success in whatever you decide to do next.”
Fellow goalkeeper Andrew Lonergan added: “What a career, enjoy retirement my friend.”
Former Tunisia centre-back Radhi Jaidi, who shared the pitch with Ali at Bolton Wanderers also chipped in, saying: “It was an honour to play alongside you and get to know you as a person, my brother Ali Al Habsi. I wish you good luck in the future.”
“As a goalkeeper, you were very, very good, but as a person you are an excellent friend, good luck in your new adventure, you have earned the affection and respect of all,” added ex-Bolton man Alex Fernandez, who currently plays in Spain for Cadiz CF.
Oman’s current captain and long-standing teammate of Al Habsi, Ahmed Mubarak, also praised his fellow countryman’s character, saying he “fulfilled the responsibilities of being a role model, had great knowledge and a professional mindset.” He continued by saying, “All Omanis and Arabs thank you, for what you have achieved. Good luck to you on your next journey.”