One of the most famous Saudi footballers of all time, Sami Al Jaber enjoyed a long and distinguished career for both club and country.
The former Saudi international striker began his career at Al Hilal at the age of 16, before bowing out with the same side more than 20 years later in a testimonial against English giants Manchester United. Most notable among Al Jaber’s achievements were his appearances at four consecutive FIFA World Cup™ finals for Saudi Arabia, as well as his status as the only Asian player to have scored in three different editions of the tournament, the last of which at Germany 2006.
While Al Jaber’s goals brought him distinction on the field, his experience and enormous popularity have paved the way for his move into football administration and management. 'The Wolf', as he is known in Saudi football circles, is currently the General Manager of his beloved Al Hilal as well as a member of the Saudi Football Association.
FIFA.com invites you to enjoy a selection of quotes from the legendary Saudi Arabian from his long playing career and on life since hanging up his boots.
“It’s wonderful and very exciting to be still scoring goals at the end of my career.”
Al Jaber on his sustained feats of marksmanship with Al Hilal and the national team
“It was a spontaneous expression after scoring the goal, and the truth is I really do love the fans that travelled all the way to Bahrain to stand with the team – as I do every supporter of our national side.”
Al Jaber on celebrating scoring a goal against Bahrain in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers by writing ‘I love you’ in the air
“I’m worried that I’ll retire after the World Cup then make another comeback in 2010 (laughing). When I decided to retire from international football four years ago I was serious, but I didn’t hesitate to answer the call of duty when my country needed me.”
Al Jaber on his return from retirement to take part in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany
“Naturally I’m pleased with the favourable response to the website. I didn’t think it would be so popular and it’s exceeded my expectations. Perhaps what pleased me most was the outstanding success of the forums.”
Al Jaber on the success of his official website
“Professionalism is a difficult word for Saudis at the moment because it involves aspects that some of our stars don’t have. The most important things needed for Saudis playing professionally abroad are patience and the ability to adapt, aspects that are often lacking.”
Al Jaber on the challenges facing his compatriots playing abroad
“It seems I picked up the infection in hospital. I became worried after I fell ill with flu twice in one week. I went to hospital and asked for a swine flu test, which came back positive. However, the doctors told me I’d recover without the need for drugs.”
Al Jaber on having swine flu
“I’m very satisfied with that experience and the fact that I was the first professional from Saudi Arabia or the Gulf to play in England.”
Al Jaber on his four-month loan spell with Wolverhampton Wanderers
"I took part in a great many tournaments during my playing days, sometimes at the expense of my physical well-being and free time."
Al Jaber on the sacrifices of a long career in football
“I wish it were that much! I earn an average salary and spend more than 80 per cent of it on myself and my large family.”
Al Jaber on inflated estimates of his annual income
“It’s nothing new. I’ve had this kind of criticism for 22 years so I’ve become immune to these things.”
Al Jaber on dealing with adverse press coverage
“I had great difficulty balancing playing and studying but I managed to get my degree. I wanted to continue with my studies but it was very difficult.”
Al Jaber on gaining his academic qualifications
"I was able to break a lot of records. I believe it will be many years before anyone achieves similar success."
Al Jaber on 'The Legend', one of his favourite nicknames