Al Habsi joins Al Hilal from Reading

HONG KONG: Oman international goalkeeper Ali al Habsi has signed a three-year deal 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 UAE side Al Ain in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League on August 21.
The Omani goalkeeper began his club career with Al Mudhaibi Club in 1998 before moving to Al Nasr SC in 2002.
The 35-year old then moved to Norway to play for Lyn Football on a three-year contract, before playing with England’s Bolton Wanderers FC, Wigan Athletic FC and eventually to Reading in 2015. — Agencies