* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Sami Abdullah Al-Jaber (Arabic: سامي الجابر; 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 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.
Sami Al-Jaber wearing an Al-Hilal shirt after retirement.
However, the move was fraught with complications and setbacks. It took almost a month for his international clearance to arrive before he could make his Wolves debut on 16 September 2000 coming on as a substitute in a 1–1 draw at Wimbledon. He did the same in the following two league games (and played a full League Cup match) before having to leave to appear in the Asian Cup with his country. However, he returned from international duty carrying a groin injury that left him on the sidelines for a further month and drew a furious reaction from Wolves after learning of the injections he had been given while away to enable him to complete the tournament.
Al-Jaber regained his fitness but managed only one further substitute appearance in the first team, annoying his Saudi club. He returned home on compassionate leave after his father became ill over the Christmas period, and upon returning to Molineux discovered Colin Lee had been sacked as manager and replaced by Dave Jones. Jones asked for his trial to be extended to allow him chance to personally evaluate the player but when his parent club Al-Hilal refused, he returned home after just eight months and five (goalless) appearances in England. Despite his failure to make an impression, he later said: "I learned everything at Wolves and was really happy to have had that time there.
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.