For 14 years, Rabih Ataya (pic) has played for several clubs in his home country Lebanon and Iran.
From Lebanon’s Al-Ahed to Iran’s Zob Ahan, the 1.79m (5’8”) winger has always played alongside top professionals, some of them stellar names in Asian football.
For his country, he has mesmerised fans with his silky skills and magical left foot 36 times since 2012.
In 2020, the 30-year-old Rabih decided to embark on a new adventure away from Western Asia, and that brought him to Shah Alam to play for newly promoted side UiTM.
For Rabih, it is a new experience as this is the first time he is playing with students in a professional club.
At first, it was a struggle, but now the talismanic player is loving “student life”.
“Playing with students was a bit hard in the beginning as I never played in Malaysia before, but after a few pre-season matches, I felt better, and we are beginning to gel, ” he said.
“I feel good at UiTM as everyone is friendly and we also have proper management and coaches, who make us feel comfortable at all times.
“The first four games were good because we started against three dominant teams. We focused on getting points from them, but we were unlucky with Melaka and Johor Darul Ta’zim because we have not got any points.
“We bounced back by getting the point against Kedah, and then the three points against Police. Four points are pretty good, and once the league resumes, we hope to continue this momentum.”
Rabih can be considered one of the standouts in the league as he provided assists for three goals and scored one in four matches.
UiTM would certainly want their key player to keep the momentum going as all teams are on a break due to the movement control order imposed by the government due to Covid-19.
Rabih’s wife and children were supposed to be in Kuala Lumpur to be with him, but due to the travel lockdown, they had to return to Lebanon.
“I would like to say that the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia is not harmful and will stop very soon as the government has planned well for the people, but we must help them by staying at home and obeying the order.
“My wife did not come here because she was flying from Lebanon to Qatar, and then to Malaysia on March 17, but we had to send her back to Lebanon because the lockdown started the next day.
“Once the league resumes, I want our boys to work hard and get to a good position in the league. I know we can do it.”