Date of birth
A centurion with Wigan, Al-Habsi began his footballing career in his native Oman before a three-year spell with Norwegian side Lyn Oslo. Following the transfer he became the first Omani to play international football in Europe and was also voted ‘Norwegian goalkeeper of the year’ in 2004.
In 2006 he made the move to England to join Sam Allardyce’s Premier League Bolton, although he’d have to wait just over a year to make his debut for the Trotters in an extra-time win over Fulham in the Carling Cup. He went on to make a total of 16 appearances that season, most notably residing between the sticks in a UEFA Cup match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. He made his first Premier League start against Wigan Athletic, the club whom he would go on to spend five years a player.
The first of those was a season-long loan which began in July 2010. After being named the Latics’ Player of the Season that year, Al-Habsi made the move permanent the following season, signing a four year deal at an estimated £4million fee.
After over 100 league appearances for Wigan and an FA Cup winner in 2013, the Oman international was Steve Clarke’s fifth signing of the 2015 summer transfer window. Al-Habsi joined the Royals after the departures of Adam Federici and Mikkel Andersen, with intentions of taking over the number one jersey.
He made his debut for Reading in our Capital One Cup fixture with Colchester, and after keeping a clean sheet through extra time he then made his Madejski stadium debut in the same competition against Premier League Everton a month later. His first League start came in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough two weeks later.
Al Habsi soon became a popular figure in RG2, that being shown with a string of excellent performances, match-winning saves and attitude that allowed him to win the Royals' Player of the Season award for two-seasons in a row!