Sneijder: I am Very Happy I Chose Al Gharafa

Sneijder: I am Very Happy I Chose Al Gharafa
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Published January 9th, 2018 - 14:51 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Dutch player Wesley Sneijder gives a press conference in Doha as he was officially unveiled by Al-Gharafa football team on January 8, 2018, after signing an 18-month contract with the mid-table Qatari side .
STRINGER / AFP
Dutch player Wesley Sneijder gives a press conference in Doha as he was officially unveiled by Al-Gharafa football team on January 8, 2018, after signing an 18-month contract with the mid-table Qatari side . STRINGER / AFP

Wesley Sneijder has an impressive resume, having played for top football clubs like Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan in his stellar career. That Al Gharafa managed to sign the Dutch star is a coup of sorts for the QNB Stars League side.

Yesterday, Sneijder was unveiled as the Gharafa player as the 33-year-old embarked on a new chapter of his life. It was a grand welcome for the midfielder, with Gharafa’s top officials and past players present to welcome their new and biggest addition.

Sneijder is 33, but what Gharafa want from him is his experience and to carry the club forward by nurturing the young talent. So it wasn’t a surprise that he was given the captain’s armband and No 10 jersey as soon as he touched Doha.

“I am very excited to be here,’ said a beaming Sneijder to packed audience. “I feel very welcome. I am here to bring my experience and quality into the team. Also I want to help out the young players and improve their skills and qualities.

From what I have heard, this team has lot of quality and also good young players. I hope we can have a great season together,” he added.

The most capped Dutch footballer with 133 matches under his belt, Sneijder, has played in three World Cups and also won Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010. Sneijder confirmed that he has signed an 18-month contract with Gharafa, who will be hoping he can change their fortunes with the club occupying seventh place in the standings at the halfway stage of the QNB Stars League.

Mahmoud al-Ghazal, Al Gharafa’s Football Head revealed it was not the first time they had tried to sign Sneijder. “We are very happy that today amongst us we have a great player. We tried to sign him four years ago in 2014 but couldn’t. We are glad we have finally signed him. He will be a great asset to our team and inspire youngsters. He is a great player and will be the captain of the team,” al-Ghazal said.

For Sneijder, it didn’t need much of convincing to move to Qatar. He spoke to Dutch midfielder of Moroccan-origin Anouar Diba, who plays for rivals Al Kharaitiyat. And he only had good things to say about Qatar and Al Gharafa. The Dutch star played four games during a spell with French club Nice this season having been released by Turkish side Galatasaray in July. He received many offers from around the world, including US, China, Mexico and Brazil, but chose to go with the advice of Diba.

“I had an opportunity to talk a friend here, Anouar Diba, who has played in Qatar for 10-11 seasons. He told me about the league and also about the club. So I had enough information about everything here, about the club and league. I am very happy to have made this choice and I can’t wait to start,” Sneijder said

“To be honest, my choice to come here was to play football. There was speculation about me going to the US, about going to China or others, but I never read about ‘he will go to Qatar’. Of course, there were more offers and they came from everywhere.

“I had a couple of days to think about it, spoke to different people and then I made this choice. I feel very welcome here and I am happy that I chose Al Gharafa. To be honest, I can’t wait to start training tomorrow and to help the team,” he added.

Gharafa will take on Al Ahli on Friday after winter break and Sneijder could feature in the playing XI, but the midfielder left it to club’s new coach Bulent Uygun to make that decision.

Sneijder said he had not spoken to Xavi Hernandez, the former Barcelona legend who plays for Al Sadd, but added he will reach out to the Spaniard soon.

Meanwhile, Iran striker Mehdi Taremi is to join Al Gharafa. Mehdi, who had an outstanding career with defending Iranian league champions Persepolis since 2014, is expected to strengthen Gharafa’s attack along with Dutch superstar Wesley Sneijder.

Hailing from the city of Bushehr, 25-year-old Taremi started his senior career with home side Shahin Bushehr. He was later brought to Persepolis by Iranian legend Ali Daei. Mehdi has represented Iran 22 times, scoring 10 goals.

By  Sahan Bidappa

© Gulf Times Newspaper 2017

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