x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pro League: The long road to recovery for Yousuf Abdulrahman

Yousuf Abdulrahman's world fell apart in a car accident that left him in a coma for two months. Working through rehab at Qatar's Aspire Academy, he thinks of pulling on the gloves again for Al Ain.

Happier times for Al Ain goalkeeper Yousuf Abdulrahman included many stops such as this one.  Courtesy Al Ittihad
Happier times for Al Ain goalkeeper Yousuf Abdulrahman included many stops such as this one. Courtesy Al Ittihad


LIENZ, AUSTRIA // Yousuf Abdulrahman, who might be preparing for the London Olympics had he not nearly died in a car crash almost two years ago, is making progress in his recovery, the Al Ain club's medical staff said on Tuesday.

Abdulrahman was the first-choice goalkeeper of what is now the Olympic (Under 23) team during their rise through the age-group ranks, and had been in goal for the 1-0 championship victory over Kuwait in the 2010 U23 Gulf Cup final, on August 7, 2010, just weeks before the September 2 crash that left him with a skull fracture and put him in a coma for two months.

He also had risen to the first-choice keeper with Al Ain, at the age of 21, and had been in the first XI for Al Ain's league opener, on August 28, days before the crash.

He does not remember the accident, but it is believed he fell asleep at the wheel during the long afternoon drive from his family's home in Kalba to a training session in Al Ain.

"He needs time to be back because we don't want to be in a hurry and we don't want to make any mistake which may negatively affect the player's condition," said Nicolas Tezorodies, the medical officer.

"Now the player is doing an intensive rehab programme at the Aspire Academy in Qatar. When we started working on his case we aimed at getting him as a normal man before getting him back as a player, but he got feeling well so soon."

Relatives, friends and teammates feared the worse when they visited Abdulrahman as he lay unconscious, two years ago.

"My parents told me that everyone who saw me, in the beginning thought, 'That's it, he will die', because my face had a lot of bruises and my body was thin," Abdulrahman said last year in an interview with The National. "Everyone thought: 'That's it, we're going to lose him'."

Majed Alweas, the team manager at Al Ain, was the first club official to see him, and he was filled with dread. "I was afraid," Alweas said. "My family knows about car accidents; I lost my sister in one. And it seemed like the same with Yousuf."

He suffered temporary paralysis on his left side, and when interviewed in January last year he estimated his physical condition as "20 per cent" of normal.

His near-fatal crash was the most serious of many misfortunes to befall Al Ain that season, when they finished 10th in the Pro League, just above the drop zone.

Al Ain medical people remain optimistic that Abdulrahman, now 23, will be able to return to football.

"Yousuf is one of the best goalkeepers in the UAE, and he needs support and encouragement from everyone in Al Ain," the medical staff said.

It was noted that Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed, chairman of the Al Ain club board of directors "has been always there with Yousuf, along with the coaching and admin staffs, in addition to the fans ... So everyone is supporting him, but to get back to the field is related to his complete recovery."

Al Ain's final game in their camp in the Austrian city of Leogang is tonight against Cottbus, a German side. The club return to the UAE tomorrow.

* With agency


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