Ebac Northern League Second Division club Blyth AFC have announced the signing of United Arab Emirates international defender Ali Salem Ahmed Faraj Alameri.
Alameri has been capped by his country and was part of the squad that competed at the 2012 Olympic Games against the likes of Great Britain, Uruguay and Senegal.
The centre-back has played at the highest level over in the UAE and also made sixteen appearances in the AFC Champions League between 2010 and 2016.
Joint-manager Ian Skinner spoke about how the signing come to fruition, telling the club`s Andrew McDonnell: “His pedigree is second-to-none, if you look at his career and where he’s been.
“He’s a professional, played in the Olympics back in 2012 and was part of the squad at Wembley when the UAE played Great Britain.
“His calibre is there for all to see. It was a bit of a chance signing, he’s a friend of somebody I know. Ali has been good in training and we went through the official channels after he had his contract cancelled with his team in Dubai.
“We applied for international clearance, which took 36 days to get. It’s through now and he’s officially a Blyth AFC player.”
Alameri signed with his first professional club at the age of 17 in Abu Dhabi and went on to win the Arabian Gulf League with Al Jazira in 2011.
The defender started playing on the international stage from 2009, representing the UAE Under-23 side before moving up to the senior team.
His experience speaks for itself, having won a silver medal in the Asian Games in Guangzhou back in 2010 and then going on to play in the Summer Olympics.
The first game of the 2012 tournament was against Uruguay, who had the likes of Barcelona striker Luis Suárez and Paris-Saint Germain’s Edinson Cavani in their starting line-up.
Alameri transferred to Al-Nasr in Dubai in 2014 and went on to win the League Cup in 2015 and then the President’s Cup in 2015 before moving on to Baniyas SC for the 2016-17 season.
His last appearance in the AFC Champions League was back in March 2016, when Al-Nasr side beat Ittihad 2-1 in front of nearly 40,000 people and his last appearance for Baniyas SC was March 2017.
Skinner added: “It’d be easy to get carried away and say ‘we’ve signed an international footballer’, but you’ve got to remember that he’s come to a foreign country and he’s never experienced this type of football before.
“You hear it at the top level of English football where Premier League teams will sign players from overseas and they say ‘you’ve got to give him time to settle’. He’s never experienced anything like the Northern League.
“What we might do, without trying to be disrespectful, is try and get him dual-registered. We haven’t had an opportunity to see him in a game yet, so we might arrange a practice game to see what he’s like.
“That might sound a bit disrespectful, but it’ll be for him to get a real taste of what English football is like. That’ll put him in good stead, rather than throwing him in at the deep end.”
The UAE international has been training with the Braves for a number of weeks now and has impressed the coaching staff during that period.
Skinner stated that the club are wanting to see him in a game, however, the joint-manager believes Alameri will be part of the squad at some point between now and the end of the season.
The joint-manager said: “His fitness isn’t an issue, he’s a professional footballer. He’s training every day and then also when we train as well. I would be amazed if he’s not involved with the squad between now and the end of the season because of what we’ve already seen in training.
“We never make promises and guarantees to anybody. The only thing we do say is that each player will get a chance and when they do it’ll be up to them to take it.
“He’s a big, powerful, centre-half. He’s good on the ball, he’s got a good range of passing and has got all the attributes to make me think he’ll be able to play in the Northern League.
“He’s a mature lad and I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to get started”.