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Oman goalkeeper Al Habsi joins Al Hilal from Reading

Britain Football Soccer - Reading v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 29/5/17 Reading's Ali Al Habsi celebrates after saving a penalty Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic
Britain Football Soccer – Reading v Huddersfield Town – Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final – Wembley Stadium, London, England – 29/5/17 Reading’s Ali Al Habsi celebrates after saving a penalty Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Oman international goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has signed for Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal from English Championship side Reading, the two-time Asian champions announced on Monday.

Al Habsi was the first goalkeeper from the Gulf region to play in the English Premier League, initially spending four years as Jussi Jaaskelainen’s understudy at Bolton Wanderers before joining Wigan in 2011 after a year-long loan period.

The highlight of the 35-year-old’s career came in 2013 when he won the FA Cup in the middle of his five-season stint with Wigan Athletic, which ended when he signed for Reading in 2015.

Al Habsi was able to join Al Hilal after the Saudi Arabian Premier League relaxed rules on overseas players, permitting clubs to field foreign goalkeepers.

The goalkeeper was Reading’s player of the year last season and is expected to make his competitive debut for Al Hilal when the Riyadh-based club take on Iran’s Persepolis in the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League next month.

(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by John O’Brien)

 

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