Saudi fans rejoiced to see their national team’s former captain, Saleh Al-Nuaimah holding the Asian Champions League (ACL) trophy before Al-Hilal defeated Urawa Reds Diamond of Japan 1-0 in the quarter-final first leg at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on Saturday.
The appearance of the legendary Saudi defender brought back memories of continental achievements, most important of which were in 1984 and 1988 when the Saudi team won the titles with Al-Nuaimah captaining the Saudi team both years. He also won the award for best defender in both championships.
Despite his serious nature and strong personality, he was extremely quiet and polite. For that, he won the respect of all his colleagues and rival players.
Al-Nuaimah started his football career in 1976 when he joined the Riyadh-based Al-Hilal. The team’s coach at that team was the Englishman George Smith. His first match was against Al-Qadisiyah of Alkobar, where he scored his first professional goal. In 1978, Al-Nuaimah was selected for the national team. He has a record of 150 international appearances. Moreover, he was the first Saudi player to lift the Asian cup twice.
In 1990, Al-Nuaimah officially announced his retirement. A ceremony was held at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium where elite Saudi and Arab footballers played a match against world stars, among whom were the Brazilian midfielder Zico and the Cameroonian star Roger Milla. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.