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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Al-Temyat back from the brink
Saudi Arabia's Nawaf Al-Temyat
Al-Temyat cannot wait to get to the World Cup
A little over 12 months ago the chances of Saudi Arabia's Nawaf Al-Temyat even playing football again, let alone at this summer's World Cup, seemed slim.

Yet the left-footed playmaker has recovered from a career-threatening knee injury in time to find the richest form of his career.

Al-Temyat's career had been firmly in the ascendancy when injury struck in March last year.

In the 1999-00 season, his inspirational form helped Saudi giants Al-Hilal win the Asian Club Championships for only the second time in their history, while Saudi Arabia just missed out on the Asian Cup, losing 1-0 to Japan in the final.

Open Quote
It will be very hard for us, but I am confident we can do well
Close Quote
Nawaf Al-Temyat
Al-Temyat's consistently excellent displays were rewarded with the 2000 Asian player of the year award - following in the footsteps of Saudi striker Saeed Al-Owairan, who won the first ever such prize in 1994.

That promising career seemed to have come to an abrupt end after his injury, until Doctor Gerard Saillant came to the rescue.

Saillant, who worked with Ronaldo during his recuperation in Brazil, spent months putting Al-Temyat through the most intensive of recovery programmes ­ and the hard work has paid off.

Al-Temyat, now 26-years old, is back dictating play for his country.

More than just a provider, he also has a penchant for spectacular goals - scoring from distance with left-footed drives is his trademark.

He will be a key to Saudi Arabia's World Cup hopes and after missing out on the qualifying campaign, he cannot wait to take part.

Saudi Arabia's Nawaf Al-Temyat
Al Temyat rose to fame at the 2000 Asian Cup
"We have a good blend," he said. "There are a lot of good young players in the squad who are just emerging and they are very talented.

"If they are put alongside the more experienced players it makes us one of the strongest nations in Asia.

"Obviously, it will be very hard for us, but I am confident we can do well."

Off the pitch, Al-Temyat is refreshingly unconventional. He is the son of a wealthy aristocratic Riyadh family and has little need of the financial rewards offered by the game.

But despite his wealth, good looks and celebrity profile, he steadfastly refuses to indulge in the playboy lifestyle.

Instead, he lives a low-profile life and rarely courts publicity, unless it is to promote his charitable work.

In fact, Al-Temyat is more likely to be found visiting the local orphanage in Riyadh than in the world of his superstar parties, and such is his standing in Saudia Arabia he will be his countryıs official spokesman at the Prince Charles' Charitable PMG Polo tournament in England in June.

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He's got pace and can score goals
Close Quote
Roda JC's coach Wim Vrosch on Al-Temyat
With these cosmopolitan contacts, and his excellent grasp of English, Al-Temyat has long been talked about as the first Saudi to make a real go of it in European football.

In the run up to the World Cup, the player was courted by Italian clubs Parma and Brescia, but seemed most likely to join Roda JC.

The Dutch club's technical director, Wim Vrosch, believes the player could bring many assets to his club.

"He's a real number ten, who sees things others don't. He's got pace and can score goals.

"He's basically very flexible too. It's not about the money for him, he's already got plenty of that, he would be here to learn, and be willing to learn.

"We would also expect to make some money back from any deal, through marketing, TV-rights and tournaments in Saudi Arabia. You could compare it to the Shinji Ono deal that Feyenoord brokered last season."

Al-Temyat will hope that he will follow in the Japanese international's footsteps, rather than those of international team-mate Sami Al-Jaber, who failed to make any impact at English club Wolves.

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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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