By Andrew White
Italy captain will join club after World Cup; deal designed to boost profile of UAE football.
Dubai-based football club Al Ahli has secured the shock signing of Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro.
The 36-year-old defender, who is currently preparing for his country’s defence of their title in South Africa, has signed a two-year deal and will join Al Ahli after this summer’s tournament. He will leave Italian side Juventus on a free transfer.
“I'm happy to sign for Al Ahli,” Cannavaro said in a statement. “I always thought of moving to live in Dubai as I love it and I have achieved my dream by moving to Dubai and play for one of its big clubs like Al Ahli.”
Last week it was reported that Al Ahli had approached Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp to take over as manager. There has been no word from Redknapp, a former Portsmouth boss who is currently facing tax evasion charges in the UK.
Chairman Abdullah Al Naboodah told the club's website: "This deal with a player like Cannavaro is one of the most important deals for us because he's a player with great experience and talent. He is also one of the best defenders in the world."
Cannavaro has 132 international caps and is believed to have rejected offers from Italy to play in Dubai when the new season starts in mid-September.
According to the Dubai Sports Council’s official website, Al Ahli was founded in 1970. It was run by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, now the Ruler of Dubai, and today his son Sheikh Hamdan is chairman of the club.
The club has won titles at Arabian, Gulf and continental levels, the website says.
How could Fabio Cannavaro have dreamed of working with Al Ahli, after being a World Cup winner? Who actually believes that?