Goalkeeper reflects on 2013 FA Cup triumphWe are back in FA Cup action this weekend against Walsall at Madejski Stadium… and our goalkeeping department has a bit of pedigree when it comes to lifting the trophy!
Back in 1988, our current goalkeeper coach Dave Beasant kept a clean-sheet as captain of Wimbledon as Liverpool, saving a John Aldridge penalty. 15 years on, Ali Al-Habsi helped Wigan to another huge upset, as the Latics took the trophy home in 2013 at the expense of Man City.
“It was a great experience for myself,” said Ali of his cup triumph with Wigan. “It was one of my biggest achievements in football in England. The FA Cup has a big history as a competition, and to win the medal was something special.
“Not many players have a chance to win the medal, including many big names in football here in England. But to be one of the players to have a winner’s medal was great. The most important thing for me was being the first Omani and first Arab player to win the FA Cup.”
While Ali didn’t feature in the final against City, his clean-sheet against Millwall at Wembley in the semi-final built the base for a 2-0 triumph and a return to the national stadium.
Al-Habsi explained the honour of lifting the trophy, playing on the big stage at Wembley, and the global reputation of the FA Cup.
“Many of the players here at Reading were in the semi-final against Arsenal last year; I watched that game,” he explained. “For me, it was a great experience for me as well when I went to Wembley – I played against Millwall in the semi-final and we got through to the final.
“It was a dream for me – it is the best stadium that I have ever played at in the world. It was fantastic for me and my family – that was a proud time.
“Back home in the Middle East, football is huge. Everyone follows English football. I remember a big, big game between England and Germany at the old Wembley – that was a really big game and the name of the stadium means a lot for English football.
“I was very young when I watched that game, and to come after years and to be in that position and to win the Cup was huge for me. When you play football, you have some moments you never forget. For me, one of those moments was to play at Wembley.”
Our FA Cup adventure continues this Saturday when Walsall visit Madejski Stadium for a 3pm kick-off – tickets begin at £10 Adults and £5 Concessions. For more information and full ticketing information, click here.