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Omar Abdulrahman: Asia’s No. 1 Soccer Player

May 23rd, 2017 · No Comments · Arabian Gulf League, London Olympics, soccer, UAE, World Cup

In six-plus years based in Abu Dhabi, I saw this kid play dozens of times in person, hundreds of times when we add TV exposure … and it seems to me a highly justified decision by one on the web’s most important soccer sites:

Omar Abdulrahman of Al Ain and the United Arab Emirates, best player in Asia.

Far as I am concerned, he has been the best Asian player for several years already, but it is only the past year or so that the little playmaker with the big hair has been getting recognition the recognition he deserves.

Late last year, he was designated the Asian player of the year for 2016 by the Asian Football Confederation, the organizing body for soccer in the world’s biggest continent.

The award typically goes to a player from one of Asia’s more prominent soccer nations — Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran.

And now, he has the FourFourTwo endorsement, which may get Omar Abdulrahman more attention than the AFC award.

Omar is hampered, in terms of international recognition, by having played only in the UAE’s Arabian Gulf League: Very few fans outside the UAE will be fully familiar with him, and his sublime skills on the ball and reading the game.

He has played the whole of his career with the Al Ain club, which last year reached the Asian Champions League final before losing by a goal in aggregate.

Omar’s biggest moment on a global stage was the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, when some of the famous players who came up against the UAE (Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, the UK’s Ryan Giggs) were very complimentary about the little midfielder’s performances.

(Both gave him their jerseys, after they had played against the UAE. Uruguay won 2-1 after falling behind 1-0 and the Team Great Britain were locked in a 1-1 tie with 25 minutes left — at Wembley — before pulling away to a 3-1 victory.)

Omar has two brothers who also play for Al Ain, Mohammed, a midfielder, and Khalid, a left back. Back in 2012, after Al Ain had qualified for London, I had a chance to interview all three of them at once, through an interpreter, after driving out to Al Ain.

(And, some “inside journalism” stuff for you — nothing is more difficult to reconstruct than a four-way interview (the three brothers and me), even with the help of a tape recorder. Brothers, in particular, can sound very similar, and it all comes to me via the translator.)

In the Q&A with FourFourTwo, linked above, Omar suggests he would be keen to more to a European club and, at 25, it perhaps is not yet too late.

He is candid in noting that UAE clubs do not want to lose their best players to foreign sides — actually, they have never lost one.

If it short-sighted behavior by UAE clubs. Having one of their own playing with a Premier League team or in Spain or Italy, would be great for UAE soccer. And there is no reason why Omar — or others from the small set of Emiratis who could make it your Europe — could not come back to his UAE club after he is finished in Europe.

In the meantime, follow the links in this blog post to get an idea, via YouTube, of some of the things he can do on a soccer pitch.

It is hard to say, because I have seen Omar play so many times and recognize the depth of his quality … but it is at least possible that after a season or three in Europe he would come back even better than he is now.



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