Walter Zenga Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Walter Zenga, the legendary goalkeeper of the Italian national team during 1990 World Cup, has joined UAE Pro League club Al Nasr as coach, according to team manager Khalid Obaid.

The 50-year-old former Inter Milan stalwart was sacked by Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr on December 24 after a string of bad results and had been strongly linked as a ranked-outsider to replace Rafael Benitez at Inter until Leonardo was installed recently.

Al Nasr UAE sacked Brazilian former keeper Helios Dos Anjos in October and had benefited from Emirati coach Eid Baroot's experience up until New Year until he had to return to his duties with the UAE FA as U17 national team coach. He left the Blue Wave sixth in the league and second from bottom in their Cup group.

Obaid spoke only to confirm that negotiations with Zenga had finished and he would fly into Dubai from Saudi Arabia last night and would take charge against Al Dhafra in the Etisalat Cup on January 14.

An unnamed agent, who's client was also in the running for the job, confirmed the signing of Zenga after his associate was turned down in place of the favoured Italian, who has managed 11 clubs in the USA, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, UAE (with Al Ain), Italy and Saudi Arabia since 1999.

Al Nasr UAE had side-stepped Gulf News with talk of a ‘mystery Romanian' joining as coach, which led towards early speculation that either the recently departed Al Sadd Qatar coach Cosmin Olaroiu, linked with Steaua Bucharest, or the just newly-installed Lens manager Laszlo Boloni were in the running for the job.

However, further investigation has revealed that Zenga is a Romanian passport holder through marriage.

Prized addition

Zenga is a prized addition given his 21-year playing career with seven different clubs in Italy and the USA from 1978 to 1999.

He won Serie A once, the UEFA Cup twice and was UEFA keeper of the year in 1990. He was thrice named World keeper of the year according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) and was Serie A footballer of the year in 1987.

As coach he won the Romanian League with Steaua Bucharest in 2005 and got the Serbian league and cup double with Red Star Belgrade in 2006.

He won 58 caps for his country between 1985 and 1992, finishing third at the ‘Italia 90' World Cup losing to Maradona's Argentina in the semi but beating Linekar and Gascoigne's England in the play-off.

HIS STORY

As a player

  • 1978-1979 Salernitana (ITA)
  • 1979-1980 Savona (ITA)
  • 1980-1982 Sambenedettese (ITA)
  • 1982-1994 Inter Milan (ITA)
  • 1994-1996 Sampdoria (ITA)
  • 1996-1997 Padova (ITA)
  • 1997-1999 New England Revolution (USA)

As a Manager

  • 1999 New England Revolution (USA)
  • 2000-2001 Brera Calcio (ITA)
  • 2002-2004 National Bucharest (ROM)
  • 2004-2005 Steaua Bucharest (ROM)
  • 2005-2006 Red Star Belgrade (SER)
  • 2006 Gaziantepspor (TUR)
  • 2007 Al Ain (UAE)
  • 2007 Dinamo Bucharest (ROM)
  • 2008-2009 Catania (ITA)
  • 2009-2010 Palermo (ITA)
  • 2010 Al Nassr (KSA)
  • 2010 Al Nasr (UAE)