Doha, Qatar: Khalfan Ibrahim, one of Qatar’s biggest stars ever, stunned the country’s football fraternity with the announcement of his retirement on Tuesday.
The former AFC Footballer of the Year attributed his retirement to things out of his control, saying that he took the decision after years of thinking.
“My retirement is not surrender, but rather a rest. I have not retired from life, and I will face the challenges with all my strength,” said Khalfan, in an Instagram post.
He said the decision had nothing to do with any issues with anyone.
Khalfan also expressed his respect for the management of Al Sadd, Al Rayyan, Al Arabi — the three clubs he has played.
The 31-year-old has been struggling with form and injuries in the last few years, but such has been his talent and ability that Qatari fans expected him, or rather, wanted him badly to regain some sort of his old magic.
After leaving Sadd, for whom he was at his devastating best, in 2017, Khalfan played for Arabi where he started his youth career, before moving to Rayyan in hope of finding his form, but even though he showed glimpses of his sublime gift, he could not make a real and consistent impact.
Khalfan joined Al Arabi on loan last week and also made a substitute appearance for them against Umm Salal, which makes his decision even more surprising.
Khalfan has won the AFC Champions League, four league titles, three Amir Cups, and numerous other triumphs with Sadd.
The 2006 Asian player of the year while he was still in his teens, Khalfan was the best Arab player in 2007, and the Qatar Football Association player of the year in 2013.
Khalfan has proved unplayable at times as Al Rayyan found out in the 2013 Heir Apparent’s Cup semifinal against Al Rayyan.
When Khalfan picked the ball deep in his own half on the left flank, Rayyan had plenty of players ready. But the calm and composed forward, just made a diagonal run beating six players on his way before finding the net with an angular shot to leave Sadd fans screaming with ecstasy.
That was just one of Khalfan’s dazzling moments on the pitch and the Qatar fans will surely miss him.