x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Pro League: Al Ain's Omar Abdulrahman in no hurry to move on

He is nearly ready to make a move to clubs such as Manchester City or Benfica or Hamburg. But the midfielder's first priority is seeing Al Ain win a 11th league trophy.

The promising Omar Abdulrahman has European clubs in his sights. Mike Young / The National
The promising Omar Abdulrahman has European clubs in his sights. Mike Young / The National
Omar Abdulrahman is unique in the history of UAE football in this respect: he may be the first Emirati player whose fans look forward to the day when he leaves the club.

The playmaker is held in the highest esteem at Al Ain, who have designs on an unprecedented haul of five trophies this year. But even the most jealous of "ainawy" will be pleased and proud when the country's best player moves to a European side.

In a private discussion this week, the jewel of UAE football confided that he is nearly ready to make a move to the likes of Manchester City or Benfica or Hamburg. But his first priority is seeing Al Ain win their 11th league trophy – which they can take a big step towards with a home victory over Al Jazira tomorrow.

More silverware is in sights with the President's Cup and Etisalat Cup, followed by the Super Cup in September and the Asian Champions League title in November.

"Right now, the priority remains with Al Ain because Al Ain are determined to win every championship they are in this season," the 21-year-old midfielder said.

Prominent among them is the Champions League, which has been treacherous for UAE clubs in recent years, but was won by Al Ain in 2003.

"Just like any other player, I want to win trophies and the AFC Champions League is big trophy, because there are a lot of big clubs in it," Abdulrahman said. He helped Al Ain get off to a strong start this week with an equalising goal against the Saudi side Al Hilal, and an assist then in a 3-1 victory.

He trained with City in the summer and might already be on a contract with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's Premier League champions had he been able to secure a work permit; Britain requires non-EU footballers to have played in 75 per cent of his nation's matches in the previous two years, and his team must be ranked in Fifa's top 70.

The man called "Amoory" falls short on both counts; he missed much of 2011 with a knee injury, and the UAE are ranked No 99.

"I enjoyed training with them, and all went well; the club offered me a four-year contract and they believed in me," he said.

"Roberto Mancini is one of the best managers in the world and it makes me very proud that he thought I was capable to play in his team.

"I did not reject the offer; I could not sign it because the guidelines in England did not allow me to."

If City come calling again and the UAE are in the top 70, would he join them? "Yes, I would," he said. "I wanted to join Man City when they offered me, but it's out of my hands and we cannot do anything.

"If the club offers me again when UAE is in the top 70 of Fifa rankings, I will sign it. It is every player's dream to play in a major European league and Manchester City is one of the biggest clubs."

Like most Emirati players, he does not have an agent, but he does not believe agents are necessary. "I do my dealings through my club management staff," he said.

"So far, I have Nike as my boot sponsor who pays me to wear their boot, and apart from that I don't have any other brand sponsors.

"If any brand wants me to promote their company, they can very easily come to the club or call the club with an offer.

"I don't think it is because I don't have an agent."

To speak with Amoory in person is to be impressed with how humble and modest he is; it is always a pleasure to see someone achieve so much and yet keep his feet on the ground and act like a normal kid.

If, or when, he moves to Europe, he promised he will take his famously frizzy hairstyle with him.

"No I wont cut my hair. I have very strong curly hair, so that's why I decided to keep this hairstyle.

"It suits me and the fans love it. Well, that's what they tell me all the time."

The whole of the country is looking forward to seeing the little man with the big hair playing for a European side. It seems only a matter of time before he will.


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