Chance to finish my career in England in a nice way: Habsi

September 01, 2019

As expected and first reported by Muscat Daily in July, experienced goalkeeper Ali al Habsi has made a return to English football. The 37 year old Oman international signed up a deal with English Championship club West Bromwich Albion on Thursday that will keep him at the Hawthorns until end of the season. 

Habsi had parted ways with Saudi giants Al Hilal after a two-year stint in July and had then told Muscat Daily, “I had my best times in England and those years are very close to my heart. Hopefully, I could make a return.” The shot-stopper's last appearance in English football came for Reading in its Championship playoff final de- feat by Huddersfield in May 2017.

Besides Reading, Habsi previously had spells in England with Bolton and Wigan. Speaking after signing the deal with West Brom on Thursday, Habsi said, "I've spent 12 years in English football and when the chance to come here and finish my career in England in a nice way came around, I had no doubts."

Habsi is expected to provide further competition to senior pair Sam Johnstone and Jonathan Bond. Following a week-long training stint he signed the deal with the side managed by Croatian Slaven Bilic, who also spent last season in Saudi Arabia with Al Ittihad Club.

During his spell with Al Hilal, the super-fit 37 year old won Saudi’s domestic championship. Speaking to the club website, Habsi said, “I knew ‘Bondy’ from my time at Reading and I spoke with Ahmed (Hegazi) who I’ve followed since he came here and it is fantastic to be here.

“I want to help the team and help the keepers – I know the tar- get of the club is to go back into the Premier League and I want to be part of that. It would be brilliant for me. What I’ve seen so far is really, really good. “I’m still fit and I’m looking forward to this competition. I’ve been involved for a long, long time in English football. This is the country of football.”

Habsi has won 127 caps for Oman and was a member of Wigan’s FA Cup triumph and Reading’s run to the playoff final. In his remarks to Muscat Daily on Saturday, Habsi said, “All my fans in Oman are happy that I got this chance to finish my career in England. I’ve been receiving hundreds of congratulatory mes- sages over the past two days.”