Sami Abdullah Al-Jaber born 11 December 1972) is a retired football striker from Saudi Arabia. He spent the majority of his career from 1988 to 2008 with Al-Hilal, of whom has been manager since 2013.He is his country's second highest international goalscorer with 46 goals in 156 internationals from 1992 to 2006. Al-Jaber appeared in four consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments, from 1994 to 2006, scoring in three of them. He was also a member of the Saudi squads which won the AFC Asian Cup in 1996.
Al-Jaber is often cited as Al-Hilal's most famous player, after spending nearly 20 years with the club. He joined the club aged 15 and during two decades as a senior player, helped them to win 6 league titles, 6 Crown Prince Cups and 2 Asian Champions League titles among other honours. He was also top goalscorer in the Saudi Premier League twice (in 1989–90 and 1992–93). On 21 January 2008, Al-Hilal held a testimonial for Al-Jaber against English Premier League club Manchester United. Al-Jaber scored a penalty en route to a 3–2 victory over the visitors, in his last game for the club.
On 22 August 2000, English First Division side Wolverhampton Wanderers agreed terms to sign Al-Jaber after impressing Wolves' boss Colin Lee in a trial. The deal consisted of an initial five-month loan period with the option to buy for a reported £1.2 million at its conclusion and made him the first Saudi player to play in England.
He competed in four FIFA World Cups—appearing in the 1994, 1998, 2002, and the 2006 World Cups. His record of 163 caps is second only to Mohamed Al-Deayea in his country's history. He received his first cap for the Saudi national team on 11 September 1992 in a 1–1 draw with Syria in the Arab Nations Cup. He took until his 19th game to score his first international goal when he netted in a 6–0 rout of Macau on 1 May 1993 in a World Cup 1994 qualifier. Saudi Arabia subsequently qualified for the 1994 World Cup Finals, their first World Cup appearance. Al-Jaber appeared in two group games in the USA, scoring from the penalty spot against Morocco in a 2–1 win. He was part of the squad that won the 1996 Asian Cup before reaching his second World Cup Finals in 1998. He played in all three games in which the Saudi side appeared in France, scoring a second World Cup goal when he netted in a 2–2 draw with South Africa. This made him the first Asian player to score in two consecutive World Cups.
After gaining a runners-up medal in the 2000 Asian Cup, he appeared in the 2002 World Cup but only played in one game, an 0–8 hammering by Germany. He was ruled out of the rest of the competition when his appendix burst and he had to be rushed to hospital.Following this disappointment, he decided to retire from international football but was tempted back by Saudi Arabia's Argentine coach Gabriel Calderon in early 2005 for their 2006 World Cup campaign. He scored three times in four qualifying games to help reach the finals. He appeared in all three games the Saudis played in the tournament in Germany and scored in their opening match against Tunisia to give them a 2–1 lead but the match ended 2–2. After failing to advance to the knockout stages, Al-Jaber announced his international retirement.
Appearances in major international competitions
- 1992 Arab Nations Cup – 2nd place
- 1992 FIFA Confederations Cup – 2nd place
- 1992 Gulf Cup of Nations – 3rd Place
- 1994 FIFA World Cup – Round of 16
- 1994 Gulf Cup of Nations – Champions
- 1996 Gulf Cup of Nations – 3rd Place
- 1996 AFC Asian Cup – Champions
- 1998 FIFA World Cup – Round 1
- 1999 Afro-Asian Cup of Nations – Champions
- 2000 AFC Asian Cup – 2nd place
- 2002 Gulf Cup of Nations – Champions
- 2002 FIFA World Cup – Round 1
- 2006 FIFA World Cup – Round 1