The official website of Sami al-Jaber has announced that the footballer has finally decided to retire, concluding a great career that lasted about 20 years in the beautiful game. The announcement was expected since the end of last season, in which al-Jaber has minimally contributed to his club al-Hilal who finished second in the race for the Saudi league title.
There is no doubt that Sami is one of the best footballers Saudi Arabia has ever had, and his career on the international and club levels is simply incomparable. He captained al-Hilal to win many trophies over the years, and the way he led the national team on their journey to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals won’t be easily forgotten. His fans and Saudi sports media have given him many nicknames such as Sam 6, the Wolf, Samio, the Poisonous and Mr. Goal.
But despite his achievements and excellence, al-Jaber has come under some sever attacks in the media during different stages of his career. Many of these attacks were unjustified and unfair, in my opinion that is, but I guess being a big superstar like that has drawbacks that should be tolerated if one wants to go on with whatever he does. What he was doing is playing football and scoring goals, and he was very good at that. As for media wars and other stuff, that really should not matter, except for one thing that not many mention when they talk about him: in 2005, Sami was named Goodwill Ambassador for the UN; an honor no other footballer here has won.
Since he first joined al-Hilal as a teenager, Sami has become an indispensable part of the club and the national team. The highlights of his career are many, but playing in four consecutive World Cups is probably the most distinguished one. He is also one of the very few players who scored in three World Cups.
Being a big fan of Sami, I can go on and on talking about him for hours, but what I really want to say is simply this: I want to thank Sami for bringing joy and happiness to millions of football fans here in the Kingdom and around the world. You were great, we are proud of you, and we won’t forget you. Thank you Sami.