First, it was the coronation of Mudhaibi Club as Oman first division league champion on Thursday, the hometown club of Oman’s football legend Ali al Habsi. And on Saturday, the crowning of Ali al Habsi as English Championship club, Reading’s Player of the Season 2016-17 for the second successive season, added glitter to the success story of Mudhaibi, the club where Ali’s four brothers were part of a fairytale promotion to the Omantel Professional League.
For Reading’s Player of the Season award, Ali beat off a strong challenge from the French striker Yann Kermorgant and English defender Liam Moore.
The 35 year old goalkeeper had an outstanding season with the club, which on Saturday secured its berth in the Championship playoffs for English Premier League (EPL) next season after its 1-0 win over Wigan.
Ali was one of the key players to have contributed to the Royals’ excellent season, having won quite a number of player of the match awards in the season along with his inclusion into the Championship team of the season. Ali won the Player of the Season award last season, following in fellow stopper Adam Federici’s footsteps to etch his name in Royals’ history. In retaining the title, he joins a small group of players who have won back-to-back Player of the Season accolades at the club - Steve Death, Robin Friday, Mick Gooding and Phil Parkinson.
Ali was honoured at a ceremony held at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, UK, ahead of the match against his former club, Wigan, on Saturday.
The Omani goalkeeper was delighted to win his second successive Player of the Year award in English football since joining Bolton Wanderers in 2006.
Besides the two awards with Reading, he had previously won the Player of the Season award with Wigan in 2011.
Speaking to Muscat Daily shortly after receiving the award at the Madejski Stadium, the Omani shot-stopper said, “I am delighted to have been named Player of the Season for the second time in succession. It is a very big achievement for me. To win the prestigious award back-to-back is not easy and this season it was very difficult as the club had an excellent season.”
Ali said, “It is a very special moment for me and comes at a time when my first club and my hometown club, Mudhaibi, has not only got promoted to the Omantel Professional League (OPL) but also did it in style by winning the first division title with a 2-1 win over Nizwa on Thursday.”
Four of Ali’s brothers - Ahmed, Anwar, Harib and Sultan – are an integral part of
Mudhaibi’s success. While Ahmad is the team director, Anwar is the coach, Harib is the captain and goalkeeper [also represented national team], and Sultan is the striker.
“It is a fantastic moment for everyone and it will be remembered for many years. Now, the club has to think about next year - every game will be shown on TV, there will be more media following the club…it will all come together. My parents are very happy and proud,” said Ali.
Ali said “the player of the season award underlined his consistent performances throughout the season”.
The second successive trophy with Reading underlines the huge role the Omani has played for the club during the season.
“Frankly, I was not thinking about it [the award]. All I was keen is to do my best for the team,” he said.
“This is definitely the best time of my career. The club has had a fantastic season so far and I hope we can make it to the Premier League. It is my dream to guide the team to the top-flight. I am thankful to all my fans, my manager Jaap Stam and other coaching staff for their support, my family and fans in Oman. I owe my award to all of them,” said Ali, who was recently named in the Championship team of the season, based on the allround ratings.
Ali received the trophy from Sir John Madejski, co-chairman of Reading Club, and a STAR shield from the Supporters Trust at Reading (STAR) chairman Paul Ellix ahead of the final home match of the season against Wigan on Saturday.
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