Royals goalkeeper picks up prestigious award...Congratulations to Royals goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who has today been confirmed as Reading's Player of the Season 2015/16!
The stopper picked up his award ahead of our final home fixture of the season against Preston North End; he came out on top as thousands of Royals supporters cast their votes. The Player of the Season voting was conducted by STAR, our supporters' trust.
From Muscat to the Madejski. It has been quite a season for our experienced Omani stopper. The former Bolton and Wigan goalie signed for the Royals in the summer and soon made his mark both on the pitch and off it.
One of the nicest men you’ll meet in football, Al-Habsi has become a fans’ favourite within the space of a season – and he needs no more admirers; back in his native Oman, he is the David Beckham of the Gulf states…one tweet in Arabic sends social media into meltdown.
He has amassed more than 100 caps for his country and, during his first season as a Royal, he helped Oman come close to reaching the next World Cup qualification stages with countless clean sheets and the captain’s armband around his goalkeeper’s jersey.
He has also worn the skipper’s armband for club as well as country in recent weeks – last leading the team out at Loftus Road on Saturday. And his saves this season have certainly stuck in the memory. Within the space of 15 first half minutes, he produced three extraordinary saves to deny his former club, Bolton, back in November as he repelled efforts from Ameobi, Davies and Pratley with heroics we have since become accustomed to.
He stood tall to save from the spot when Burnley’s Andre Gray threatened to clinch victory here at Madejski Stadium, and thwarting Emmanuel Adebayor one on one, pushing away two Yohann Cabaye free kicks as well as producing an instinctive stop to deny Mile Jedinak’s header, he single-handedly kept Reading in an FA Cup quarter-final against Crystal Palace last month.
A Player of the Month on three occasions so far, Ali is a worthy winner of the prestigious Player of the Season award.