By Samir Shawki
Nadir Belhadj has spoken of his delight after being selected in the 2014 Goal 50 following a magnificent season with Al Sadd.
The Algerian, who was voted Player of the Year by the Qatari FA for his performances in the country's Stars League, finished 48th in the annual list.
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“I thank Goal for choosing me. It makes me happy and gives me more motivation to keep on working hard.
“I thank my team-mates as we won the Prince Cup and have reached the last group stage of the AFC Champions League. I thank them also for helping me win the best player prize.
“I thank the coaching staff led by Hussein Amotta and also the club board and the fans. I promise them I will keep working hard to help the team.”
Belhadj is one of three players based in the MENA region to be selected in this year’s Goal 50 – the others being Abdelmoumene Djabou and Asamoah Gyan.
“Djabou and Gyan both had a great season,” the Algerian continued.
“Gyan is one of Africa’s best players and he showed this with Al Ain and Ghana. Djabou proved himself both with his club side [Club Africain] and at the World Cup with Algeria.”
Belhadj did not participate in Brazil after retiring from international football in 2012, but he says he is ready to return to national duty under new coach Christian Gourcuff.
“Algeria played perfectly at the World Cup, the players were mentally strong with great spirit and succeeded in raising the Algerian flag high,” he said of their journey to the second round where they lost in extra time to eventual winners Germany.
“Progressing to the knockout stages was well-deserved and it was nice compensation that we were eliminated by the champions.
“I wish the best of luck to the new coach of Algeria. He’s the only one responsible for choosing players and I'm ready to play if I’m chosen.”
Belhadj, whose former clubs include Lens, Lyon and Portsmouth, also commented on some other subjects from the recent World Cup.
“Germany deserved the trophy, but Argentina also performed great and were worthy runners-up,” he stated.
“Messi had a good World Cup but he didn’t deserve to win the Golden Ball. Spain’s first round exit was the big shock, while Colombia and Chile were excellent.”
The 32-year-old concluded by talking about what he does away from the football field.
“I don’t like to socialise, I like to be in the house and spend time with my children,” he revealed.
“I like riding bikes, travelling to France or Dubai and watching television. My favourite movies are those with Denzel Washington in. I also like to be in the kitchen and eating pasta!”
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