Apologies to My Family … I Admit My Ineptitude Khaled Eisa: Ainawi Nation Was Fair with Me in the Worst Conditions, and the Club’s Management Supported Me
May is the “Month of Harvesting,” and We Enjoy a High Level of Self-Confidence and Highly Trust the Boss’ Fans
The Club’s Management Actions Boosted the Team’s Strength and Deviated Pressures Away from Players
I wish Sergiy Rebrov Continues in His Position as the Head Coach for Many Years to Come
Generations Conflict Phenomenon is Disappointing, and Brokers Cause Damages to UAE Football
Current Generation Could Break Our Records and Previous Generations’
I always recite verses of the Holy Quran through the match minutes
Jersey No. 17 is my Trademark, and I look Forward to Play Match No. 500 with the Boss
I Lost First Horse After 5 Months of Selling It … I Ignored All Chit-Chat of the Disillusioned
In My Farm, I Release Myself From All Pressures and Interested in Horse Breeding
No one disputes his prominence, respect, love, appreciation, and leadership charisma. As a result, the Ainawi Nation conferred him several nicknames, most notably the Den Safeguard, the Guardian, and Jabal Hafeet.
He is the record holder with the “Boss” of UAE football, the goalkeeper with the highest record of saving penalty kicks in the FIFA World Club Cup history. Moreover, he was the subject of numerous articles published by the local and international media during the FIFA World Cup- UAE 2018.
His giving is not limited to sports, as he is keener on adopting community initiatives and human values. Simply, he could be described as a tactful speaker, controlling his reactions, adopting a policy of patience and wisdom no matter the challenges; he is the “international” goalkeeper… Khaled Eisa.
When the work team was formed to prepare the first episode of the “Leader” Program, we were sure that the task would be enjoyable, but at the same time, it would not be easy, considering that filming would take place during the holy month of Ramadan. Add to that, the episode’s themes will tackle several aspects of the life of the guest of the program outside the stadium. Indeed, this requires filming over two days and the fact that the guest rarely appears in the media and has other commitments, most notably volunteer work with the Red Crescent in Ramadan. He is also so keen to focus on training sessions and programs that reflect the true meaning of professionalism in dealing with the minor details of his life as a football player.
We agreed with the team of photographers and cameramen that the filming would take place on Eisa’s private farm, where we found all the reasons that separate the person from the pressures. When the team entered the farm, they found themselves “subconsciously” saying, Glory to God. At the time, we expected to find the place separate from all matters related to football, and we were surprised that there were crucial moments in the career of the international goalkeeper sculpted by an artist on the walls of the Majlis, the living room, and his private swimming pool, simply because the professional footballer’s life remains linked to the magic of football in each detail of his life.
Khaled Eisa responded to all questions with his usual boldness in all dossiers and did not ask us to delete any theme or change any part of a single question. We used to interview him with all impartiality and professionalism, but his strong responses were not without wisdom and spontaneity. Our meetings and interviews with him lasted for two consecutive days. We spared no effort throughout the two days; we did not feel tired or bored. Indeed, just to avoid any further blames, we would have asked to stay with him throughout the season so that we could reflect an accurate image of the attractive reality that he lives in and his classy dealings. We need everyone to benefit from him, especially the future generation, as he is a leader in the true sense of the word and a role model on and off the pitch.
He lived his childhood in Al Shahama Area in Abu Dhabi, as usual as anyone, and he had his dreams and big ambitions like all children. Moreover, he enjoyed the curiosity that precedes the steps of character formation at school and home alike. His memories were beautiful in that beautiful area of the beloved capital Abu Dhabi.
Khaled Eisa said: “My relationship with football started when I was in Al Shahama School when we used to gather to play football as childhood friends and classmates. My dream grew after I joined Al Jazira Football Academy.”
Commenting on a question about managing their time as a professional “international” player and his family, he said: “There is a tax that a football player must pay. I admit the fault for not properly taking care of my family due to my commitments during training sessions or matches throughout the season. There might be people who say that training sessions or matches last for an hour and a half or two hours, but I hope those who say that work with any football team in the world for a week or two. Then, they will discover the actual life of the football player, which is difficult, and that he has not enough time for his family and children.”
On his relationship with agriculture, he said: “The idea of establishing a farm was by chance and started from scratch. It all started when I was visiting a friend who owns a farm in the same area where I established my farm. I used to visit him in my spare time frequently. The idea began to grow, and when I assured him of my desire to establish this project, he extended a helping hand to me through advice, and by the grace of God Almighty, the farm was completed after three years; as you know that the pressures we experience are not easy and when I enter the farm, I make sure to get rid of all worries by picking fruits and taking care of animals. I need that to restore my normal condition and continue my work efficiently and properly.”
The Story of the First Horse
He said about his relationship with horses: “The first horse I owned lived with me only five months before he died. However, during that time, I learned all the details related to the details of dealing with horses. It is not a secret if I tell you that I was quite affected, and at that time, many friends advised me to stay away from this field because I knew nothing about these animals. However, by nature, I insisted on continuing to take care of and raise horses. Thanks to God Almighty, I currently own nine horses, four “beauty competitions,” and five “for riding”.
Numbers in My Life
Regarding his interest in the language of numbers, he said: “Actually, numbers are important in my life and every person’s life because numbers show the milestones in my career and on any occasion in a person’s life. These moments are associated with a specific number. For example, the number “300” means a lot to me after playing 300 matches with Al Ain. Currently, I aspire to reach 500 matches.”
He added: “The other numbers, such as 17, mean a lot to me. It was a promise I made to a dearest friend, and for the first time, I mentioned that information. I promised him that I would wear the number “17” jersey if I moved to Al Ain. It was the first clause in the items of the contract I signed with Al Ain. I am associated with this jersey number in my career, transactions, cars .. etc. It became like a brand.
On the secret of his respectable and decent dealing with the media representatives, he said: “As a matter of fact, those close to me know that I am a secondary school graduate. I do not have a bachelor’s or doctorate, but I am always keen to see and adopt a policy of listening and not speaking excessively. I assume this way of dealings in all places, including councils or watching television programs. I love to listen and learn the etiquette of conversation so that I can train others in this skill, such as my family members and friends.
One of the goals that I regretted the most when embracing my net was during our match against the South Korean Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC in the AFC Champions League 2016 final. At that time, we were taking the lead by 1-0. In the match’s dying minutes, the match referee pointed the penalty point to the home team, and I decided to go to the right side. However, Omar Abdel Rahman, the captain of the team, was pointing to the left side behind the Brazilian Leonardo, who was preparing himself to take the penalty kick. I decided not to act on the advice of any player, no matter what his name was, even if it was “Messi” himself, so as not to regret stubbornness to my hunch as I did in that match.
In response to a question about what he is keen to stick to before or during matches, he said: “Since I was 17 years old, and until now, I thank God for helping me stick to a good habit—reciting Al-Kursi verse and Al-Mawwadhatayn verses throughout the match.
The Joy of the Homeland
About the moments of the FIFA Club World Cup- UAE 2018, he said: “It is all about the feelings of pride and honor when you are part of the happiness of your nation, not a club. Definitely, it is completely “different” when you find women, men, old people, youth, children, those interested in football and those who are not even interested in it, are happy. It is a joy of a whole homeland. When you meet people at the petrol station and malls, the matter continues for years.
He added: “This thing gives you the motivation and incentive to continue and work hard on doing it again and again. Although 90% of that generation has been changed and only Bandar, Bamboo, Barman, and Yahiya remain, the culture still exists. We still work hard to motivate the current generation, and we trust that they are currently gaining experience. In a couple of seasons, I believe that they will be able to break our records and those of the generations that preceded us.”
Normal Video Clip
Commenting on the video clip that went viral and shots taken from the changing room during the national team’s gathering and the reports linking it to a problem with Shaheen Abdel Rahman, he said: “The media is always looking for excitement or a head start. Sometimes things are distorted, and I assure you that the video clip leaked from a changing room was normal. Shaheen, my younger brother, has no dispute between him and me. I assure you that there is no misunderstanding between me and any player on the national team.”
On the chances of our national team qualifying for the World Cup finals after playing the playoff stage, he said: “It is not a secret to say that our task in the playoff stage is difficult, especially since we will face two teams that have an advantage in individual and collective capabilities. However, in the statements that preceded our match against South Korea, I confirmed that we could win six matches out of ten if we played with heart and spirit. This is what happened since we played against South Korea Team despite the pressures that we suffered at the time.”
The Fans Were Fair with Me
In response to a question about being criticized at a certain period and being excluded from the national team list, he said: “It is complicated to describe how I felt at the time. However, I always adopt the principle of silence and not listening to all people in such circumstances. I am keen to listen to the meaningful and constructive criticism that benefits my team and me. Some spoke that my level declined, and I confirmed that Marvik is the decision-maker. I worked hard until God supported me, and not to forget the support I received from Al Ain fans and the management of Al Ain Club, who stood by me properly until I overcame this challenge. I always say to myself and advise everyone not to listen to everything that people say.”
On the phenomenon of generational conflict, especially after the national team’s loss, he said: “It has become boring. In winning, things go on normally, and you do not find anyone making the usual statements, but the sad thing is when you lose. You are surprised by the statements of people older than us and more experienced and faced similar circumstances that we have gone through previously. Indeed, while we were waiting for the concepts of generational communication to materialize, we heard frustrating messages, although everyone did not address them. Meanwhile, some persons are keen to give me advice permanently, and I benefited from their guidance. As a result, I was keen to correct my mistakes based on such messages. This is what we call generations communication and how it should be. There is also Walid Salem, the former Al Ain Team goalkeeper. We have constant contact and share experience and knowledge.”
He added: “I do not want to be unfair to anyone, but those keen to direct us to the right path are few. Indeed, the majority of them did not play football. This raises the question, where are those playing football, why do we see some of them at the time of loss objecting to salaries, and why do they receive a million dirhams; instead, they demand a reduction in salaries to six thousand. Do you think this is the way to develop football games in UAE? Sorry, development is not after reaching thirty years old. If you want to build this game, you must start with U-17 teams.
He commented: “We accept criticism, even if it is harsh, but if it is purposeful and benefits those criticized. Criticism does not mean insulting and interfering in the private life of the players. This is unacceptable at all! The idea of football is no longer just a game on a personal level. I learned a lot during my career, such as patience and dealing with pressures. This is all reflected positively in my lifestyle.
Khaled Eisa also commented: “I remember in the London Olympics2012, we played against Senegal National Team and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. I played against Sadio Mane, who moved to Liverpool in that match if you ask why! The answer will be that there are people who cared about the player’s talent and worked to make him one of the top ten players in the world now. They led him to the right path, and they did not talk about his salary, the car he drives, or the brand he wears. We did not see any player from the UAE Olympic team who played against Senegal Team playing abroad. I do not doubt that the problem is not with us. We want external professionalism, but who will lead us there?
On the main reasons that harmed the UAE football game, he said: “At the outset, I would like to admit that we, as native players, have many negatives and mistakes, but is the Emirati player the main cause of the damage the UAE football game? I tell you realistically, No. From my point of view, one of the reasons is a brokerage, and I have simple examples. If we go back 30 years, we used to find in every Club one or two players who made a difference and were of an added value to the Emirati players, which is reflected in his training and lifestyle. Therefore, the main reason for attracting foreign players is to benefit the Emirati players, and changing foreign players and head coaches is no more than wasting money.”
He went on to say: “At one time, I asked the Shabab Al Ahli Team players about Fabio Cannavaro, who considered him an example of the foreigner that we must learn from as Emirati players. They responded that he used to get permission from the team’s head coach Cosmin Olaroiu to train its defenders. As a result, the backline of the Shabab Al Ahli Team won the title of the best defensive line in the league. As a result, brokers are required to bring in players of the value of Cannavaro to benefit the Emirati players.
On the reasons for the decline last season, he said: “There are big clubs that do not have that big grassroots. If the team loses, the matter passes naturally, and they pledge to compensate in the next match. They congratulated each other, and the matter was over. On the contrary, in Al Ain Club, it is completely different. If the team loses, an emergency case is announced. We are under great pressure. I am talking about myself now, and I do not sleep well at night. There are many things and personal work that I cannot accomplish.”
Khaled Eisa added, “At one time, I felt at the required level, but there was no one to help me. However, I feel that the players are strong enough and gained experience from last season. It is not a secret to tell you that during the beginning of the preparation phase for the current season in Spain, I spoke with many club leaders and officials that this season would be a fruitful one. This is the first time I have revealed it. I hope that we will keep the promise, and, for us, the next month is significant. I hope everyone will support us and work together, especially the Al Ain fans, who have a culture of team support and are well aware of what is required of them.”
Regarding his feelings about the team’s results and performance this season, he said: “So far, we have not achieved anything to talk about my feelings. Nevertheless, I assure you that eight years ago, I considered myself part of a team required to fight like everyone else and play without any pressure. If I commit a mistake, some come to release stress. I suddenly became the oldest player on the team, which I did not easily understand. After we were nearly ten players to play for the UAE national team, suddenly, only two or three were selected.
He added, “In a certain period, I experienced a decline in my level, which is a normal thing that any football player in the world experience. Indeed, I experienced difficult moments. Every day, I had an incredible feeling because of negative criticism and insults and things I did not wish to mention, and the low level of the team’s performance. Then, I became a bench player on the national team before I was completely excluded from the “international” list. The burden became heavy, but I always talked to those close to me that I was lucky to be loved by the fans of Al Ain. Indeed, it is a blessing. I thank the Almighty God for it. Then, I realized that I was required to preserve such a blessing. On the other hand, as long as I can give, I will not fall short, and if I make a mistake, I promise you that I will come back and correct my errors. Apologies are possible in the football game, but I was able to return to my level of performance thanks to God and then the support of the Club’s fans and the management’s stance on my side.
The Secret Behind Change
Commenting on a question about the secret behind the change between the last and current seasons, he said: “It is all about the good administrative work and the new policy adopted by the Club’s management to keep the team away from pressures. They exerted great efforts other than attracting players or offices, rather than in the changing room. We find them positively leading the scene and appearing in the media in a balanced manner in the event of a loss or a draw. This helped the team focus on the team’s performance on the pitch comfortably, especially since half of the players were playing for the first time with the first team and competing for the championship title. This requires keeping them away from pressures properly.”
In his opinion of the Ukrainian head coach, Sergiy Rebrov, he said: “Sergey Rebrov is a coach and a mentor, not just a coach because he has a great mentality. I hope he will continue with us for several years to come. In the first round, we defeated Al Jazira 5-1, and on the second day, during the technical meeting to analyze the match, he was talking to us in a manner as if we didn’t do anything; on the contrary, as if we were the team that lost by five. This attitude made me sure that he had a different mentality.”