Player of the Year Ali aiming to stay at Latics

Top stopper - Ali Al Habsi and (below) Golden Boot winner Charles N'Zogbia
Top stopper - Ali Al Habsi and (below) Golden Boot winner Charles N'Zogbia

ALI Al Habsi has hinted he is willing to commit his long-term future to Wigan Athletic after scooping the top award at last night’s Player of the Year awards dinner.

Al Habsi picked up both the ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Away Player of the Year’ gongs for his exploits this season, after a string of top-class performances between the sticks.

Charles N Zogbia

Charles N Zogbia

The Oman stopper only arrived at the DW last summer on a season-long loan from Bolton.

But he quickly established himself as Wigan’s No.1 and has proved impossible for Chris Kirkland and Mike Pollitt to budge.

Al Habsi’s consistency has reportedly alerted the attention of Arsenal and Aston Villa, while it’s also been suggested his parent club could be looking to sell first-choice Jussi Jaaskelainen and make Al Habsi their top man.

However, Al Habsi insists he could not be happier with life in Wigan, ahead of arguably the biggest game in the club’s history at Stoke this weekend.

He told the Evening Post: “It has been a wonderful year for me at Wigan, and I thank everyone involved with the club for making me feel so welcome here.

“You can only play your best football when you are happy off the field, and that has certainly been the case.

“I would love to stay with Wigan, but who knows what will happen in the future?

“All we are focused on at the moment is Sunday’s game with Stoke, which is one of the biggest games in our history.

“If we can win that and secure our Premier League status, then we can all start to look forward to next season.”

Al Habsi made only 10 league appearances for Bolton in four and a half years before moving to Wigan, where he has been a virtual ever-present since making his debut at Tottenham in August.

The only two league matches he’s missed were against Bolton, when he was ineligible to play, and he’s adamant his days of playing second fiddle are over.

“I feel I have established myself as a first-choice goalkeeper, and I would not like to go back to being a substitute,” he added.

“Wigan have given me the chance to show what I can do and I hope that I have repaid their faith in me. It’s a great club and I have enjoyed every minute of being here.

“I have said it many times before, but I cannot thank the fans enough. They have taken me as one of their own.

“Of course it would make me happy to stay here – but we have to get Sunday out of the way first.”

The other winners at last night’s awards ceremony were Antolin Alcaraz, the Players’ Player of the Year, James McCarthy, Young Players’ Player, Charles N’Zogbia won the Golden Boot and Ben Watson, who won the Media Player of the Year award.