|Saudi Arabian captain Yasser Al Qahtani: Voted Asia’s
Saudi Arabia captain Yasser Al Qahtani has captured the Asian Player of the Year award before turning his attention to a European move.
The player could be training with English giants Chelsea as part of the award.
The training offer, part of a partnership between Chelsea and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), is subject to the agreement of the players’ club, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, the player himself and calendar commitments, The south London club said in a statement.
The interest hasn’t ended there as Al Qahtani also saying he has had preliminary discussions with English club Middlesbrough, initiated by a phone call from the club’s Egypt striker Ahmed Mido.
“I have no clue what is going to happen next,” he said.
“I hope to play in Europe … it’s a dream.
“I would love, for the benefit of my team, to play in Europe and gain more experience, I would love to go to England or Spain, for sure.”
Al Qahtani was the joint leading goalscorer in the Asian Cup, where the Saudis lost the final 1-0 to Iraq in July, and led his Al Hilal club to the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.
“I’m very proud winning this award,” he said.
“Frankly speaking, I wasn’t representing only myself. I’m representing the Saudi people and all of my teammates.”
The 25-year-old striker just pipped Iraqi pair Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram for the continent’s top individual award.
Mahmoud was the player of the tournament at the Asian Cup, was joint leading scorer with Al Qahtani, and scored the winning goal in the final.
Midfielder Akram was instrumental in Iraq’s run to the deciding match.
“The three of us come from Arab nations who were nominated for this award and that’s an achievement in itself,” Al Qahtani said.
Asian Champions League winner Urawa Reds of Japan was voted the region’s top club of the year and Iraq won the team of the year award.
Iraq has not played a game on home soil in at least four years and has a team of players scattered throughout the Middle East, yet qualified for the semifinals at the Athens 2004 Olympics and made the Asian Games final before winning the Asian Cup.