Rabin Omar: From the Netherlands to Scottish football via university

You were born in the Netherlands and played at youth level there. What was that experience like for you?

I was very young when my family lived in the Netherlands as we moved to Scotland when I was around ten years old. However, when I played football over there, all of the coaching was aimed towards technical development.

They didn’t focus on the physical side of the game. Everything was about playing with the ball and I think that’s the way coaching should be for young kids who are making their way and developing a love of the game.

You made your professional debut for Annan Athletic. How do you reflect on your time at the club?

“2012-07-02 089 Annan Athletic getting the plastic pitch ready” by martyn jenkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

When I look back on my time there, I have happy memories. I was very young when I broke into the first team and I was a regular at seventeen in League Two which with hindsight is something that I’m very proud of.

At the time, I didn’t think too much about it and just focused on my football which was ideal for me because not many young players have the opportunity to play first team football at such a young age.

The club was fantastic with me and all of the players at the club. It’s a club that isn’t located centrally and can be difficult to travel to but they look after you at all times and it created a very positive atmosphere when I was at the club.

John Joyce pushed for me to play at a young age and I am very grateful to him and the club for putting their trust in me. I look back on my time there very fondly.

You made the move from Annan to Elgin. How do you reflect on your time working under Gavin Price?

“2011-06-21 002 Elgin FC” by martyn jenkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I was at Annan for four years and there were a few changes happening at the club in terms of players and managers so I felt that it was time for a fresh challenge.

Gavin Price was really good with me and made me feel wanted at Elgin straight away. The club agreed compensation with Annan due to my age and off I went.

In terms of location, it is a relatively long journey to get there but the club welcomed me in. Everyone is from the south to the lads at Elgin due to their location but they welcome everyone and I settled in very quickly.

While playing part time football, you graduated from university. What was it like combining university and playing professional football?

Photograph: Pexels

Initially, it was quite tough. We trained up in Aviemore and I would commute from Glasgow which meant I’d leave at 4pm and return home at 1am.

It could be very challenging during the exam season but I’ve always been good at managing my time so I ensured that my Uni work was at the level I knew it had to be at which meant I could enjoy my football and fully focus on it.

The club were always very supportive and if I needed to miss a training session due to an exam then they’d always accommodate that and support me.

In the summer of 2020, you moved to full time football with Greenock Morton. How do you reflect on your time at the club before moving on to Dumbarton on loan?

Photograph: Callum McFadden

It wasn’t a mainstream signing in the sense that going from Elgin to Morton is something that maybe took a few people by surprise but David Hopkin had watched me for a few years even when I was at Annan so when I knew that he was interested then it was a no brainer to go and challenge myself at Morton.

David Hopkin wanted to take me to Livingston but there was an issue with compensation which meant that never happened.

When I arrived at Morton, the coaching staff were excellent and the experienced players like Chris Millar, Jim McAlister and Brian McLean really looked out for the younger players in the squad. They would always give you advice or help you if you were having a tough time. It was easy to settle in at the club which was crucial as most of us were younger players.

“Greenock Morton v Arbroath” by daniel0685 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I played around fifteen times at Morton and five of those were starts. I think I had more to give and I felt that I played well in the middle of the park when I had opportunities to play there. I felt that I played well against St Mirren under David Hopkin and after that I either started or came off the bench until David Hopkin left.

I felt that I was making good strides under him and I was happy with how I started under Anton McElhone. However, the red card against Inverness was a big moment for me. I think that was the turning point in my Morton career and when I look back I still felt like I had more to give but that’s football and you have to take the rough with the smooth whenever you play or don’t play.

You played for Dumbarton towards the end of the delayed 20/21 season. What was it like playing so many games in a short space of time?

“File:Brig Jeanie Johnston south west of Dumbarton Rock – geograph.org.uk – 203728.jpg” by Tom McNeillis licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Going to Dumbarton was an interesting move as they were in a similar situation to Morton in terms of fighting for their lives in the division.

I made a really positive start for the club with a goal against Falkirk and I kicked on after that too. I played well and I enjoyed playing under Jim Duffy.

Photograph courtesy of Andy Scott. All rights reserved by http://www.andyscottphotos.co.uk/

We had many games in a short space of time which fell around the time of Ramadan which my family and I celebrate so to have so many games during a period of fasting was tough.

It really affected my energy levels and I lost 6 kilos over the course of Ramadan but I have to say that Jim Duffy was great with me during that time. He explained to me that he had full respect for my religion and that we’d manage my minutes accordingly to get the best from me which he did. The team did a good job at staying up in the end having entered the playoffs.

What do you hope to achieve in the next few years of your career?

Over the next twelve to twenty-four months, I want to get back to enjoying my football again because I’ve just picked up a job in the pharmaceutical sector which my university degree was based on.

I’m going back to playing part time and enjoyment is key for me because I put a lot of pressure on myself and I did over the last year at Morton and Dumbarton as I wanted to do my upmost to help both clubs during my time there.

I think every player plays their best football when they are fully enjoying it and that is my main aim going forward.

Who would you say are they best players you’ve played with and played against so far in your career are?

I loved playing with Peter Weatherson at Annan Athletic. He was getting towards the end of his career but he was an unbelievable striker and his set pieces were superb. He scored for fun during his time at Annan. Shane Sutherland at Elgin was very good as well.

“File:Lee Wallace (15625218594).jpg” by Jim Easton from Bathgate, Scotland is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In terms of toughest opponents, I’d have to say Lee Wallace and Barrie McKay. I played against them when Mark Warburton was at Rangers and that was a tough day as they had a strong partnership together.

Last but not least, which coaches have had the strongest impact on your personal development so far?

Without doubt, I’d have to say John Joyce. He was instrumental to my development at Annan and he helped me earn my move to Morton. He did a little bit of coaching at Morton too and he’s always been a coach who really helps you understand the game.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH: Courtesy of Greenock Morton Football Club / The Greenock Morton Weekly Update

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s