DUBAI // Ismail Rabee is hoping to soar higher in the coming seasons after being named the "Best Goalkeeper" of the Etisalat league Division One. The Al Shabab custodian was outstanding in the last season, especially in the tense title-decider at Al Jazira where a goalless draw helped his Dubai club win their third league title.
Rabee, 25, was thrilled as he went on stage to collect his award at the UAEFA and Etisalat gala dinner in Sharjah and revealed this that was his target for the season. "I am so excited," he said. "Before the start of the season, my goal was to be the best goalkeeper in the country. I am happy to have achieved that target. Rabee hopes this recognition will also push him closer to the No1 spot in the UAE team, where the Al Wasl keeper Majed Nasser has been outstanding.
"I should keep working hard and stay focused. If I can keep performing at a high level, my chances will come," said Rabee, whose favourite goalkeeper is the Spain and Real Madrid star Iker Casillas. "Jens Lehmann had to wait for a long time before he became the No1 for Germany, because Oliver Kahn was so good. But around the same time, he lost his spot in Arsenal to Manuel Almunia. So, I will have to wait patiently for my chan-ces. I will try to do my best."
Rabee's performance at Al Shabab has invited interest from some top European clubs, and the French Division One side Nantes even tabled an offer, which was rejected by Al Shabab. "It would have been interesting to play in France," said Rabee. "But to be honest, I am not thinking about playing overseas at the moment. I still have another season left on my contract. "I hope I will be able to play for one of the top European clubs in the future. It is very important for UAE football that players go abroad and play in the top leagues. It will take our game to a higher level.
"Ali al Habsi's success at Bolton has shown that players from this region can also do well at the top level. So I hope I will get a chance." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org