Ali Al Habsi is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is smart, down to earth and his face beams with a warm smile. He’s an internationally recognized professional footballer, having been the goalkeeper of Wigan Athletic Football Club for the last few years, and is a great an inspiration to millions of Muslims worldwide.
HOTD caught up with Ali to hear his inspirational story.
HOTD: What made you decide to become a professional football player?
Ali: In Oman everyone loves football. We all play it in the streets and when I was young I never ever dreamed I would play in the Premier League in England. Not only that but to win the FA cup in 2012 and become the first ever Middle Eastern player to do it was just amazing.
I’ve had a lot of people who have supported me and it’s been a long journey. I have worked really hard to be where I am and am so thankful to Allah.
HOTD: A few years ago you were voted player of the season. How did that feel?
Ali: I couldn’t believe it! It was my second year and I won the player of the season award and it was so humbling. Every time I go out and meet Muslims they shake my hand and tell me they’re proud of me and it’s such an honour. I feel so humbled and it’s made me more determined to become a better example for Muslims all over the world.
HOTD: How have the club helped you maintain your faith, i.e. what special things do they do to ensure it’s easier to practice Islam?
Ali: All the clubs I have played for in the UK have been great. Even my previous club Bolton they really respected my religion. The clubs offer halal food, praying facilities and give us all the rights we need. It’s a blessing to receive such support from the clubs and I’m thankful for it.
HOTD: What are your plans after football?
Ali: I want to play for another 9 years or so till I’m 40 and then Insha’Allah I want to open up a goalkeeping academy.
HOTD: Who is your biggest inspiration?
Ali: My father. My parents. They have worked so hard and are the reason I am where I am today. They’ve worked so hard to give us a good life. They are very supportive and I believe if you give everything to your parents then Allah will give everything to you.
HOTD: I understand you had surgery recently for a shoulder operation – how are you now?
Ali: Alhamdulillah it’s going very well and Insha’Allah I will be coming back in a few weeks. Today was the first time I am joining the teams and I need another 3-4 weeks to get fit properly.
HOTD: How does Islam help you on the pitch?
Ali: Islam helps a lot! The belief we have, the prayers we do every day, the duas we do every day. Islam teaches you Sabr = patience and the message that Allah will provide.
HOTD: Finally any advice for our HOTD family?
Ali: Thanks for all your support and love. You guys are amazing and I’m so happy to have your support. Remember always work hard and be good to your parents.