NPSL Alum Alex Al-Zaibak Plying his Trade in Sweden

By Daniel Cermak/

Former NPSL goalkeeper Alex Al-Zaibak joined FC Arlanda in Sweden, and has enjoyed the
opportunity to bring his game to Europe.

“It was really great,” Al-Zaibak said. “It was a good experience to get a different perspective on
soccer, there’s a different outlook and opportunities there. Every game has meaning with
promotion/relegation, it’s not okay to lose games or drop points.”

When Al-Zaibak joined FC Arlanda, based in Stockholm, the team found itself in the Swedish
fourth division. After splitting time with the first and second teams, Al-Zaibak ended the season
helping both squads earn seven wins and a draw in his eight appearances. Those appearances
helped both FC Arlanda squads gain promotion. Now that they have reached a new level of
competition, Al-Zaibak knows there will be more challenges.

“The big jumps in quality are from third to fourth and second to first,” Al-Zaibak said. “But I
think the players we have are fully capable of competing well in the third division, it’s just a
matter of maintaining the same mentality even if we aren’t winning every game.”
Al-Zaibak joined the Swedish side after a friend was able to help him get a trial with another
Swedish club. That trial led to another trial where he was noticed by the chairman of FC
Arlanda, where he was immediately brought into the team.

“I met some other players with some other trials, and then at one trial, Arlanda’s chairman was
there and took me to another trial,” Al-Zaibak said. “I didn’t even think it was my best
performance but he called me over, and the next thing I knew I was in the car with a total
stranger going to another trial.”

Al-Zaibak’s time with Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds helped Al-Zaibak get back into game
form following some time out of the game and Al-Zaibak is thankful for his time with Greater
Lowell and the opportunity to hone his game.

“It got me back into match shape, I had taken about a year off, and you’re playing against some
top talent,” Al-Zaibak said. “It gave me a better idea of professional football and more of an
understanding of what it would take for me to make it at a professional level so I think it was a
perfect step for me.”

Greater Lowell is equally proud of Al-Zaibak, both during his time with the club and during his
professional career.

“Al-Zaibak is very team-oriented and he brings valuable contributions as a member of an
organization,” Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds Owner and Manager Andrea Gauntlett said.
“For example, Rough Diamonds had a need for a graphics person and Alex voluntarily filled that
role in spite of his already busy workload. He is someone who will definitely get very far because of who he is as a person. Alex is very likable, respectful, and committed. He gives his

Former Greater Lowell teammate Patrick DeRosa echoed the sentiment.

“He is a great teammate,” DeRosa noted. “His presence is calming. He’s very encouraging. As
a center back he would tell me what I need to be doing, but in a nice way.”

Al-Zaibak prides himself on being an all-around goalkeeper and wants to utilize his second
season with FC Arlanda to improve even further now that he’s settled into the team.

“I want to keep riding that wave and see where it takes me,” Al-Zaibak said. “For goalkeepers
it’s hard to hop around, it’s more of a staple position, you want to get comfortable with a team,
so for me it’s about how I can fit more into this system and continue on that road.”

With his leadership ability and desire to improve, look for Al-Zaibak and FC Arlanda to keep
fighting up the Swedish ranks.

Photo Credit: Andrea and Carl Gauntlett

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