Star footballer set for return
One of Jordan’s best loved footballers has revealed that he is about to return to the game after a nine-month layoff, and he could be pulling on the colours of a local side after four years aboard.
Striker Ahmad Hayel suffered a horrific head injury whilst playing for Al Arabi in Kuwait back in April 2015, an injury that threatened his career.
But the man nicknamed Al Saffah or The Executioner for his goalscoring talent, has told www.joc.jo that he is now back to full fitness and ready to resume his career at the age of 32.
“It has been a long road back but I have received so much support along the way which I am extremely grateful of,” said Hayel. “I haven’t decided on where I will play my football yet, I just want to make sure I am fully fit before resuming, but will make a decision in the coming days.”
Hayel was contracted to Al Arabi through to the end of the season but this week the Kuwaitis have cancelled his deal, opening the door for him to play closer to home.
“I have been training with Faisaly who have stood behind me throughout my recovery. I have not decided yet but if I do play in Jordan then Faisaly is my priority as I played for them in 2011,” said Hayel, who also admitted that his wife’s family are huge Wehdat fans.
Hayel started his career with Toura, Rumtha and Jazeera before his first overseas assignment with Fujairah in the UAE. He moved to Jaish in Syria before joining Faisaly for that glorious 2011 season when his goals helped them win the league, Jordan Cup and Cup of Cups. After one season he was in his way to Kuwait.
He has also figured prominently in the national set-up over the years and hopes he can reach those heights once again.
“It was not easy as I had a very dangerous injury and the doctors thought that my career was over,” he said. “I love this game. It is all that I have known since I was a kid. I had to come back and I can’t thank people like HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein (Jordan Football Association President) for the support I have received along the way.”
Hayel said he has met national team coach Paul Put and believes Al Nashama are in a good position to qualify for the upcoming World Cup and Asian Cup.
However he is concerned that the aging team needs to find a new generation of heroes to replace the likes of retired legends Hassoneh Al Sheikh, Ra’fat Ali and Badran Al Shakran. But he does believe in the quality of new players including striker Hamzeh Al Dardoor and Raja’i.
One of the questions constantly asked of Jordanian players is why they are not playing in Europe, and Hayel believes he has the answer.
“There are Jordanian players in the Gulf who are good enough to play in Europe but we need a good agency to represent and promote them in a good way,” he added.
Being away from the game over the past nine months has enabled Hayel to watch the progress of sport in general as a fan and he has admired the Living Sport initiatives launched by the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC).
“HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein has the vision for the JOC to encourage sport to play a part in all Jordanians’ lives and it should be applauded by us all,” he said. “I also believe in an event like the Black Iris Awards which recognise athletes for their achievements. It’s great work by the JOC.”
Hayel is a glowing example that athletes shouldn’t ignore their academic potential having secured a degree in Accounting. Away from football he enjoys a quiet life with his family and listening to the music of Kazim Al Saher.
But don’t expect his son to follow him into football!
“I will encourage my son to take part in Martial Arts and not football as it can be such a tough sport to succeed in. I want him to embrace sport into his life though.”
Any sportsman or woman will tell you that the road back to fitness is a lonely one but the family spirit of the Jordanian sporting community looks to have helped one of its heroes make it back from the dark times, hopefully he will be stronger than ever.