Asian World Cup Icons: The eternal Mohamed Al-Deayea

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

In Part 2 of our Asian World Cup icons, “Same Same But Different: Your Asian Football Show” looks back at Saudi Arabia legend Mohamed Al-Deayea.

Goalkeepers rarely get the limelight but are always the first to be blamed when things go awry.

Just ask Liverpool’s Loris Karius following his double error in the recent UEFA Champions League final.

But, every now and again, goalkeepers buck the trend with sheer ability and consistency that they go on to become legends of the game.

More recent examples include Peter Schmeichel, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas and – for the Asian equivalent – look no further than Mohamed Al-Deayea.

For the best part of his 14-year career, the Saudi Arabia international was regarded as one of the continent’s best shot-stoppers.

In fact, if you trust the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), he was indeed just that, having been named Asia’s Goalkeeper of the Century in 1999 ahead of Naseer Hejazi (Iran) and Choi In-young (Korea Republic).

With his lanky 1.88-metre physique, and almost always decked out in his pyjama pants, Al-Deayea may not have been the most intimidating sight for strikers.

Al-Deayea was famous for his pyjama pants outfit.

Granted, he was susceptible to the odd nervous moment under a high ball and he did have that blemish of being on the receiving end a 8-0 loss at the hands of Germany at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

And, in terms of single outstanding tournament, Korea Republic’s Lee Won-jae and Japan’s Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi arguably had better singular campaigns .

Nonetheless, in terms of longevity and considering Saudi Arabia regularly came under fire against more-illustrious opponents, none can match Al-Deayea and his combined exploits in 1994, 1998 and 2002, while he was also present in 2006 but played second fiddle to Mabrouk Zaid.

In particular, he played a pivotal role at United States 1994, where he kept a clean sheet against Belgium as the Saudis finished second in their group to reach the knockout round.

Al-Deayea eventually called time on his career in 2010 but, with four World Cup campaigns, an AFC Cup triumph in 1996, and numerous Best Goalkeeper awards, will go down as an all-time great, not just in Saudi Arabia but all of Asia.