doc

ALI Al-Habsi has ended his two year spell at Reading FC after joining Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal, writes Jacob Potter.

The move has yet to be officially confirmed by his new club, but 35-year-old Al-Habsi released a statement on social media to announce his move.

Big-spending Al-Hilal triggered a £300,000 release clause in Al-Habsi's contract and will land the Oman international on a three-year deal.

“Today I officially announce that I am moving to Al-Hilal FC, one of the greatest clubs in Saudi Arabia and Asia,” said Al-Habsi.

Al-Habsi still had two years left on his contract with Reading but was eager to move to a club closer to his family.

And he admitted it was a tough decision to leave Royals, but described his time at Madejski Stadium as a “one of a kind” experience.

He declared: “It was surely a tough decision to take. I have spent a great two years at Reading. It felt like home with friends, family and teammates.

“No one can imagine the support and love that I received from the fans and club. It was a one of a kind experience!”

Al-Habsi's departure leaves a massive void in the squad after the ex-Wigan keeper was voted Royals' Player of the Season for the past two years.

He also played a vital part in helping Jaap Stam's side finish third in the Championship table last season before losing to Huddersfield in the play-off final at Wembley.

A host of his Reading teammates have been saying their farewells via social media, with Garath McCleary Tweeting: 'A true gent and hands down the nicest guy in football. Glad you're closer to the family and we'll see you in Oman. Take care my friend.”

Royals keeper George Legg also Tweeted: “It was an absolute pleasure to train with you every day. The nicest guy around and I'm grateful for our friendship. I'll miss you.”


Finnish goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola will now be looking to take over between the sticks on a permanent basis as Al-Habsi's replacement.

But Stam is likely to delve into the transfer market before the season opener at QPR on Saturday, August 5.

The Dutchman, who celebrates his 45th birthday today, could step up his interest in £5m-rated Newcastle shot-stopper Karl Darlow who is also being chased by Middlesbrough.

Royals also saw a £1.2m bid for Eldin Jakupovic rejected by Hull City last week, according to reports in the north east.

Despite his departure, Al-Habsi is confident Reading will have another impressive season next year under the guidance of Stam.

He added: “I am sure that Reading will do great next season, especially with a perfect manager like Jaap Stam, you will push forward and will have excellent results.”


Ali Al-Habsi signs a contract with Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Habsi is the second high-profile Reading player to depart the club this summer after Danny Williams rejected a new deal to join Huddersfield on a free transfer.

However, Stam has added two new faces to his squad after landing Icelandic international Jon Dadi Bodvarsson from Wolves on a three year deal last week and Pelle Clement, 21, from Ajax Jong also on a three year contract.