Reigning Player of the Season pens new contract until 2019Reading Football Club are delighted to announce that goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has signed a new contract with the Royals, keeping him at Madejski Stadium until the summer of 2019.
A vastly experienced stopper, Al Habsi joined the club on a two-year deal in July 2015 and the former Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic keeper has won a lot of fans with some magnificent performances between the posts in the 65 starts he has earned as a Royal to date.
Our Omani international deservedly won the Player of the Season accolade at the end of his first season at Madejski Stadium and he has continued his heroic form under Jaap Stam in 2016-17, keeping eight clean sheets so far this season.
“As we all know, Ali is a great goalkeeper - a fine shot stopper with good reactions who even at this stage in his career is still improving his game and becoming better and better as a player," Stam said.
"He is very calm on the ball which is important to us, especially in the way we want to play out from the back at Reading. And just as important to this group...Ali is a great person with a very good mentality. So we are all very happy that he has signed another deal at the club."
Born in a village on the outskirts of Muscat, Al Habsi began his career with hometown club Al Midhaibi before making the step up with Al Nasr and winning the Sultan Qaboos Cup.
The 6’4” stopper was spotted by former goalkeeper John Burridge, who was working as a coach with the Oman national team and European football beckoned with Norwegian First Division side Lyn Oslo.
After three successful years in Norway, he signed for Bolton Wanderers in January 2006, playing Premier League and UEFA Cup football at the Reebok before making the permanent switch to Wigan Athletic in 2011 - after a successful loan season as the Latics’ number one and Player of the Year the previous season.
The 35-year-old, who became a dad again earlier this season, helped Reading reach an FA Cup quarter-final in his first campaign at Madejski Stadium, his acrobatics also ensuring the Royals staved off any threat of relegation with some memorable performances in the Championship last season.
Captain of his country, Al Habsi has accrued in excess of 100 international caps as an Omani national hero and he has proved an outstanding ambassador for the club during his time in Berkshire and continues to act as a shining example for the sport out in his native Oman.
Chief Executive Nigel Howe commented, “As our supporters have witnessed, Ali is a fantastic goalkeeper and his performances in the last year and a half have certainly merited this new contract at the club. As both a professional and a person, he is a real credit to our club and I am very pleased he has agreed to this new deal.”