Dubai: Ali Saleh, the Best Young Footballer in the Arabian Gulf League, hails from modest beginnings. The eldest of four children, Ali’s family consists of his dad, his Scottish mum, his younger brother Eisa and a pair of twin sisters who are in their teens.

“My family has been the backbone of my success,” Ali told Gulf News.

“We’ve lived in Dubai all our lives. My dad has been my pillar and he has taken me for every training session till a couple of years back when I started driving. My family is very supportive of me and is helping me reaslise what I want in life,” he added.

His first experience with football, however, was a painful one when a car ran over his right foot as the four-year-old Ali ran onto the road to fetch the ball. “Ironically, the same taxi took me to hospital,” Ali smiled while showing a huge scar on his right foot.

“I think I first went to Al Wasl for training when I was like six, and I’ve been playing non-stop since then,” he added.

“Football has changed my life for the better. Today, I am able to help my family in ways that I couldn’t do before. Of course, I am more financially stable and I feel secure, not just for my future, but also for the people I care about. This is very important to me.”