Local Sports

Stars of yesteryears make rare appearance on pitch in Dubai

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on November 21, 2020
The stars thanked Dubai for providing them with this opportunity to come together. — Supplied photo

The match was co-hosted by Dubai Sports Council and Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

They graced football pitches around the world and set them alight back in the day. And they left indelible memories that football fans still cherish.

And on Friday, this galaxy of stars assembled in Dubai for a rare appearance and in what was a hark back to those good old days, they turned back the clock.

FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan legend Portugal’s Luis Figo, the 2000 Ballon d'Or and 2001 Fifa World Player of the Year, Carles Puyol, Spain’s World Cup-winning captain and who wore the captain’s armband at FC Barcelona with distinction, and Dutchman Clarence Seedorf, the only player to have won the Uefa Champions League with three different clubs, as well as former Real Madrid right back Michel Salgado came together for a friendly match at the pitches of the Dubai Sports World at the World Trade Centre.

The star-studded fixture was part of the annual Dubai Fitness Challenge 30 x 30 and was arranged by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) along with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Apart from Figo, Puyol, who led La Roja to World Cup glory in 2010 apart from winning the European Championships in 2008, and Seedorf, who won the European titles with Dutch side Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 1998 and Milan in 2003 and 2007, another star Dutchman Patrick Kluivert too made a rare appearance.

Kluivert, who holds the record for being the youngest player to score in the final of a main event on the European continent, was only 18 years, 10 months and 23 days when he came off the bench to score Ajax’s 85th minute winner against AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final.

Frenchman Eric Abidal, winner of two Champions League titles with Barcelona, also took the pitch alongside the likes of Italian goalkeeping legend Walter Zenga, Ghana’s Sulley Muntari and Frenchman Ibrahim Ba.

Mikael Silvestre, the former France, Manchester United and Arsenal defender, was also present, cheering his former teammates and rivals from the sidelines as an injury prevented him from playing.

Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of DSC, and Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of the Council, were present at the game along with Omran Al Jasmi, Manager of External Relations at the Council.

The stars thanked Dubai for providing them with this opportunity to come together and meet friends they had not met for a long time. The players who took part in the match all share a common love for Dubai, and are either residents here or regular visitors. A number of them own properties and have plans to invest in Dubai ‘s growing sports sector.


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