x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Jazira's pop idol wants to keep the party going

Abdullah Mousa wants the UAE Pro League title to go with the President's Cup.

Abdullah Mousa, right, is keen to play in Europe.
Abdullah Mousa, right, is keen to play in Europe.

With his mop of dark hair and youthful vigour, Abdullah Mousa looks more than a little like Paul McCartney of The Beatles, circa 1965.

And he has a little of that pop star vibe to him, too, as he climbs out of his Mercedes and saunters into Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium rather like he owns the place.

"Paul McCartney? Ah, he's my brother," Mousa said, patting an interviewer on the arm to make sure he understood the jest. "I don't feel like a pop star. Not yet."

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Mousa is, at least, a domestic pop star at the moment as a member of the Al Jazira's first team. Jazira on Monday ended 37 years of futility by winning the President's Cup for the first time, defeating Al Wahda 4-0 before a crowd in excess of 37,000 at Zayed Sports City.

The Abu Dhabi club now are in position to win a rare domestic double; they lead the Pro League by 10 points with seven matches to play.

Only once in the past 20 years has a club (Al Wasl, 2007) won both the cup and league in the same season.

Jazira players had two days off to celebrate their Monday victory, and Mousa used all 48 hours. "Because we have won the cup for the first time, I had two celebrations, one with my family and one with my friends," he said.

"We are stopping for a time so we can prepare for Baniyas, but after Baniyas we might start celebrating again."

That final sentence has a dual meaning. Jazira can revel anew in their President's Cup victory, but if they win tomorrow at Baniyas, who are second in the league, Jazira would take a 13-point Pro League lead with six matches to play, practically locking up their first league title.

Mousa was a key performer in the cup victory, setting up the first goal in what was a one-goal game for nearly 70 minutes.

Beginning at his left-back position, the Emirati international made a long run up the touch line in stultifying heat and humidity, putting on a burst of speed to bolt past the Wahda midfielder Mohammed al Shehhi. As he carried the ball into the corner, he had formulated a plan.

"I was going to do my part and run all the way and cross it," he said. "And if it's a goal, then I am a part of this goal."

He saw Bare, the Jazira striker, running down the middle of the field, to his right. "Sometimes when I'm running, if there's no one coming with me I will try to penetrate the defence. But it was good this time because Bare was running with me, and I was determined not to miss him with the cross."

Mousa pivoted in the final yard of the pitch and with his left foot struck a perfectly weighted cross just inside the box that bounced into the goal off Bare's head, giving Jazira a 1-0 lead and changing the complexion of the match. Thereafter, Wahda chased the game, and by the 70th minute they were exhausted, allowing Jazira to fire home three more goals.

How did he feel when the final whistle blew on Jazira's greatest victory?

"It's hard to describe, as a player and part of the team," he said through a translator.

"We have been close to winning a trophy for four or five years, and I always thought we would win one, but this is the first silverware in the history of the club, so it was a great accomplishment for me and for the other players on the team, and the club, too.

"I wanted to shed tears of joy, but they didn't come. Maybe they will come when we win the league, inshallah."

Mousa, 23, was raised in Fujairah, one of the Northern Emirates that are home to so many Emirati footballers.

"It is the same there as in Brazil," he said. "We grow up playing in the street with no shoes and we learn the game. I think that's why so many members of the national team come from the Northern Emirates."

His professional career began at a teenager in Al Ain. He spent three seasons there, two in the first team, and was acquired in 2007 by Al Nasr, with whom he signed a three-year contract.

He was surprised, after one year in Nasr's first team, to be sent to Jazira, along with the current right-back, Khalid Sabeal, in exchange for two players before the 2008/09 season.

Abel Braga, the Jazira coach, has said Mousa is invaluable because of his versatility. "This is a player who can play anywhere on the field."

He aspires to a career in Europe. Where? "Anywhere," he said. "I just want to play there.

"If I can get there, and become famous, then I really would be like a pop star."

poberjuerge@thenational.ae