Ali Al-Habsi says Reading FC “felt like home” as he departs for Saudi Arabia

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Ali Al-Habsi has left Reading after two years at the club

Ali Al-Habsi has left Reading.

The goalkeeper, who has been named supporters’ player of the season in both of his two years with the Royals, confirmed last night that he has left to join Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal.

The move was rumoured a few weeks ago, which surprised many after he only penned a new Reading contract in January.

But Jaap Stam confirmed a clause was in the Omani’s contract, allowing him to leave this summer should he so wish and he has now moved on, back nearer to his family in Oman.

Taking to Instagram, Al-Habsi sent a message to the Reading fans.

His post in full read: “Today I officially announce that I am moving to Al Hilal FC, one of the greatest clubs in Saudi Arabia and Asia.

“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!

“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.

Adrian Popa scored his second goal of pre-season (Pic by Steve Smyth)

“Much love, Ali.”

Al-Habsi’s departure leaves Reading seeking a new goalkeeper with Anssi Jaakkola the only senior stopper on the books. Young keepers George Legg, Lewis Ward and Liam Driscoll are also on the club’s pre-season tour in Holland.

Stam did add his second new signing of the window on Friday, bringing in Icelandic striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson from Wolves for an undisclosed fee.

Reading played two friendlies on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Belgian side Kortrijk before goals from Adrian Popa and Roy Beerens earned a 2-2 draw against Turkish outfit Genclerbirligi.

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