Meet the ‘best player in Asia,’ who had a Man City trial yet never left Asia.
Meet Asia’s ‘best player,’ who had a Man City trial but never left the continent.
Although he has never played outside of the Middle East, the UAE international has been complimented by Barcelona veteran Xavi and has previously been on the cover of PES alongside Neymar.
Omar Abdulrahman’s name may be obscure to many football fans, but following a trial with Manchester City, the Shabab Dubai midfielder has been dubbed the “Arabic Messi.”
At the 2012 London Olympics, he made his impact on the world stage with a stunning outside-of-the-boot assist in a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay at Old Trafford.
After a failed move to City in 2012, he turned down loan offers from Benfica and Nice, meaning he has only played in Saudi Arabia, where he was born, at the age of 30.
Abdulrahman was a target for European clubs as early as 2008, when he was reportedly courted by Espanyol as a 17-year-old.
Until 2018, he stayed with Al-Ain for another year, scoring 44 goals and assisting 88 times in 175 games.
During his 10 years at the club, they were crowned league champions in the UAE twice, in 2015 and 2018.
Soon after his eye-catching performances at the Olympics, Abdulrahman went on a two-week trial with Manchester City, and was so impressed that he was offered a four-year contract.
According to then-academy chief Brian Marwood, Abdulrahman “impressed everyone” during his time at the club.
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Due to work visa difficulties, which were complicated by the player’s lack of overseas experience and the UAE’s world ranking of 121, the transaction fell through.
“To be honest, that was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.” Not everyone has the chance to train with England’s national team.
“When Kolo Toure first saw me, he asked, ‘Are you the player from the United Arab Emirates?’ I was astounded that he recognized me. He added, ‘You have the potential and the promise, and you’re here to sign a contract.’ I told him, “Inshallah, I hope to… if things go well.” Abdulrahman was named Asia’s top player four years later, in 2016, when he appeared on the PES cover alongside Neymar.
In the same year, he turned down offers from Benfica and Nice to stay at Al-Ain, saying at the time, “There have been offers, some prospective chances in Europe.”
“However, Al Ain requested that I remain, therefore no chance to migrate has presented itself.” Brinkwire has a summary of the news.