Dubai: Five-time UAE League Champions Al Ahli have stunned the football world by roping in Fabio Cannavaro, skipper for the 2006 Fifa World Cup-winning Italian team on a two-year deal, starting this season.
Authorities at the club, winners of the new professional UAE Football League (UFL) in its very first season in 2008-09, said that the Italian captain has been signed for a record 2.5 million Euros on a two-year agreement.
The 36-year-old defender, who has 132 caps for Italy, is by far the biggest signing by any club in the UAE.
"In Fabio Cannavaro we see a true leader both on and off the field and it is because of this reason that we decided to have his services with Al Ahli," Abdullah Al Naboudah, chairman of the club's board of directors, said on the club's website.
"This agreement with a player of Cannavaro's stature is one of the most important deals for us because he is a player with great experience and talent. He is also a leader on the field and he has proved this by leading Italy to victory at the 2006 Fifa World Cup," Al Naboudah added.
"I am happy to sign for Al Ahli," Cannavaro said.
"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."
Al Ahli has been one of the most successful clubs in the history of the UAE. Formed in 1970, Al Ahli dominated during the early years of formation winning three league titles.
More recently, they were crowned champions in 2005-06 and then in 2008-09 during the inaugural year of the UFL.