International call caps dream year for former Worthing forward

Omar Bugiel in action for Worthing last season. Picture by Stephen GoodgerOmar Bugiel in action for Worthing last season. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Omar Bugiel in action for Worthing last season. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Former Worthing Football Club forward Omar Bugiel's rise in the game over the past year has been nothing short of remarkable.

The now Lebanese international was gearing up to head into pre-season at Woodside Road ahead of Worthing’s Ryman League Premier Division campaign just 12 months ago.

Some stand-out displays saw him attract interest from a number of higher-level clubs, before he sealed a switch to Forest Green Rovers in February.

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The 23-year-old featured 16 times for Rovers, netting on five occasions, as they earned promotion to the Football League for the first time through the National League play-offs.

A win at Wembley in the play-off final was not to be the end of Bugiel’s campaign, though.

After learning of interest from the Lebanese national team, a country he qualifies to play for through his father, Bugiel received a first international call-up for Lebanon’s Asian Cup qualifier in Malaysia last month.

Bugiel is now hoping his rise continues for both club and country: “I learned of interest from the Lebanon national team through my uncle.

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“It was not something I had really thought about but I think it is every player’s dream to play at international level.

“The Lebanon manager contacted me after receiving my birth certificate and I was called up into the squad.

“We started off meeting up in Beirut, then moved on to Qatar and Malaysia for the Asian Cup qualifier against them.”

Lebanon sealed a 2-1 win after coming from behind, scoring the winner deep in injury-time.

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Bugiel was an unused substitute for the fixture but hopes to have more of a taste on the international stage in the future. He said: “It was a great couple of weeks with the squad, communication was quite difficult as I don’t speak Arabic but football is a universal language. All the boys were brilliant and I’m hopeful of being given more opportunities with Lebanon in the future.”

After a two-week summer break, Bugiel returned for pre-season training with Forest Green on Monday.

This season will be a historic one for both the club and Bugiel as they enter the Football League for the first time.

It is a step Bugiel is excited to be taking and he said: “For a village team in Forest Green to be in the Football League is great.

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“I don’t think people expect much from us but we’ve got a good team, great players and I hope we surprise a few people. Personally, I just want to prove myself in League Two and make as much of an impression as I can.”

Bugiel and his Forest Green team-mates will be at Woodside Road on Tuesday, August 1, for a pre-season friendly.

Bugiel says it will be fantastic for him to return to Worthing for the match and said: “Since this game was announced, it’s one I’ve been looking forward to. I’m still in regular contact with Gary (Elphick; Worthing manager), Jon (Meeney; former Worthing joint boss) and a lot of the players.

“I think it’s important to remember the people who have helped you along the way and the club as a whole is a place I will never forget.

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“I’m just hoping I don’t get too much of a kicking when I come back!”

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