January 6 – Ali Al Habsi, the Omani goalkeeping legend who made a name for himself as the first Arab player from the GCC countries to play in the Premier League, has announced his retirement from international football, aged 38.
Al Habsi is currently on the playing staff at West Bromwich Albion in the English Championship. West Brom are pushing hard for a return to the Premier League and lead the table.
Al Habsi started his football career with home town club Al Mudhaibi in 1998, also making several appearances for Al Nasr before joining Norwegian club Lyn.
Bolton Wanderers came calling and he subsequently played for Wigan, Brighton and Hove Albion and Reading. He was the first Arab from the Gulf to win the FA Cup when Wigan beat Manchester City 1-0.
His career in England was followed by a move to Saudi Arabia, where he joined Al Hilal, before returning to England last August to play for West Brom.
Al Habsi featured in three AFC Asian Cup Finals for Oman and he helped them win their first Gulf Cup title in 2009. He was named best goalkeeper in five editions of the regional tournament and retires with 135 international caps.
“After years of my country honouring me in the form of serving the national team, both within and outside, I announce today the end of my international career with the national team,” he said.
“At this moment, I extend my sincere thanks and deep appreciation to my Majesty, His Majesty the Sultan, may God protect him, and my great gratitude to everyone who supported me throughout my sporting career. Your brother, Ali Al Habsi.”
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