‘If you hang around a barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut’: Non-league keeper Zaki Oualah reacts with delight after being handed a contract by AFC Wimbledon… having spent SEVEN YEARS training with club
- Zaki Oualah’s perseverance has paid off with League One outfit AFC Wimbledon
- Oualah has spent seven years training with the club in the hope of getting a deal
- He has finally signed on the dotted line as goalkeeping cover for next season
- Oualah has reacted after the news, joking that he has waited around long enoigh
Perseverance has certainly paid off for non-league goalkeeper Zaki Oualah after he was finally rewarded a contract with AFC Wimbledon following seven years training with the club.
The League One outfit confirmed on Monday that Oualah has signed on the dotted line to take his place as goalkeeping cover for the club next season, which is just reward for his ‘incredible professionalism’.
Oualah, whose family are from Algeria, has been brought in as cover with Wimbledon manager Mark Robinson looking to let England youth goalkeeper Matthew Cox go out on loan to gain vital experience.
Zaki Oualah’s perseverance has paid off after he was rewarded a contract with AFC Wimbledon
The 26-year-old has enjoyed two spells for non-league outfit Leatherhead, and he even played against his new employers Wimbledon in a friendly.
Oualah has also had plenty of other spells in non-league, with the likes of Aldershot Town, Hayes & Yeading, Merstham, Met Police, and Farnborough.
And following the news that he had finally put pen to paper on a deal with Wimbledon, Oualah couldn’t contain his delight as he cracked out a joke about waiting around long enough for his chance.
Speaking after the deal was announced, he told the club’s website: ‘I am absolutely delighted. You know the saying, you hang around a barber shop long enough, sooner or later you’re going to get a haircuit.’
The goalkeeper then added: ‘I’ve been training with the club, it’s my seventh season now. I’m absolutely delighted. Robbo said to me to come in and do as I have been doing – work hard on the training ground, but be a part of the team.
‘I’m really thankful to Robbo for giving me this opportunity and especially Ashley Bayes (goalkeeping coach) as well, who has been terrific with me and played a massive role in where I am today.
‘My strengths are that I am really fast around the goal, I work on my speed and my power religiously. I make up for maybe the inches in height that I don’t have. I make up for that athletically. I work on that all the time, especially on the training ground with Bayzo.’
Wimbledon boss Robinson also admitted his delight at giving Oualah his chance to prove his worth with the first-team – praising his ‘incredible professionalism’.
Robinson said: ‘People may look at Zaki’s size for a goalkeeper, but he’s an absolute athlete – he’s unbelievable. He won’t want me saying this, but if he was 6ft 1 inches he would be playing in the Premier League.
‘It’s just about us being creative in terms of what we are doing. Obviously, we’ve got Matthew Cox and we want him out playing men’s football, so it’s great to bring Zaki in. He will be our back-up number two, and we are giving him that opportunity.
‘His professionalism is incredible, so he is one of those players that you want in the squad. His standards are so high, he’s a fitness fanatic, and I’m more than happy to think outside the box, his size doesn’t bother me.
‘He’s going to be a massive attribute for us in many ways. He is absolutely chuffed and I’m glad he’s got the opportunity. He’s had to graft to get this chance and if you speak to anyone in the non league circuit they will tell you that he’s an absolutely fantastic keeper.’