The next three weeks of Omar Abdulrahman’s celebrated career should finally provide the catalyst towards a long-predicted move to Europe.
Even by his own stratospheric standards, 2016 has been a year to savour for ‘Amoory’. An incredible eight man-of-the-match gongs have been collected in 12 games on the way to the AFC Champions League final with Al Ain, while the assists have flowed as the UAE chase a spot at World Cup 2018.
Such divine displays have produced a packed immediate schedule. Continental supremacy can be gained for the Boss during the two legs against South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on November 19 and 26, while he is the runaway favourite to receive the AFC Player of the Year accolade in Abu Dhabi on December 1.
If both individual and team glory follows, Amoory must ask himself: ‘why hang about?’ There is no more time to waste for a player who at 25 is heading towards his peak. Choose the brave option now and both himself and UAE football will never look back.
This could be the spark for their ascension towards Asia’s top table, smashing through the glass ceiling which has inhibited their performances since a breakthrough 2015 Asian Cup. There is simply nowhere else to go in Asia for a talent who would have joined Premier League giants Manchester City in 2012 if work permit issues had not appeared.
Further interest has never been a problem. In the aftermath of the City collapse, Portuguese giants Benfica led a lengthy list of suitors. After he lit up the 2015 tournament Down Under during the Whites’ inspiring run to third place, a plethora of Emirati agents were contacted by their counterparts from the old continent as they sought to set up a deal for the frizzy-haired wonder.
If the club’s second ACL crown is claimed against Jeonbuk, could an arrangement be reached with a grateful Al Ain to relinquish their hold?
Such a move would require drive, determination and fearlessness. No Emirati has found a permanent home in Europe’s major leagues. Such a historic switch is overdue. An escape from the cozy confines of Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and the Arabian Gulf League should have been made years ago.
"Omar deserves to be not only nominated, but to be the best player in Asia." An effusive Mahdi Ali on @3moory10's AFC POY nom @Sport360— Matt Monaghan (@mattmonaghan360) November 9, 2016
Abdulrahman possesses ability which is commensurate with the likes of Australia’s Tim Cahill, South Korea’s Son Heung-min and Japan’s Shinji Kagawa. All had or are enjoying fine careers away from familiar surroundings.
Instead, the situation of Amoory is reflective of the issues which has inhibited the development of Gulf footballers for generations. Coming from countries blessed with immense wealth from natural resources and a cultural background which makes assimilation into European dressing rooms troublesome, it is a path rarely trodden.
Saudi Arabia icon Sami Al Jaber is the only player of similar standing who made the move, though his protracted loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2000 was to come to a premature end.
It is up to Amoory now to seize the moment and avoid a similar fate. He may never get a better opportunity to fulfil his destiny.