Dubai: New Al Wahda reserve team coach Adrian Mutu has told Gulf News that he will draw upon all of his experiences to be an invaluable source of guidance to his young players.
The 39-year-old former Juventus star, who joined the Abu Dhabi club last month, enjoyed a mixed career, ending as Romania’s joint all-time highest scorer alongside Gheorghi Hagi on 35 goals.
However, he also served two long-term suspensions for failed drugs tests while at Chelsea and Fiorentina in 2004 and 2010.
The first was for cocaine, while the second was for banned appetite suppressant sibutramine.
“I wouldn’t say many,” he said of his career ups and downs in an exclusive email interview with Gulf News, sent while on camp in Poland with Al Wahda this week.
“I only had one bad experience when I was a little bit older than the players I’m coaching at the moment. I was only 23-years-old,” he added of that first incident, which saw him sacked from Chelsea.
“Now I can tell my players how to be a footballer 24 hours a day, and when you eat, drink or go out, I can tell them to think about whether it’s good for them and whether it will affect their performance. Anyway, that’s an old story from almost 20 years ago.”
Looking ahead to a new and exciting chapter in his life the four-time Romanian footballer of the year added: “This opportunity with Al Wahda is very important for me, as it is for the young players who will work with me.
“It’s important for me because I will have the opportunity to practice and teach football, the passion of my life, and of course I will also get to experience a different culture.
“For the players it’s important to listen, learn and work hard, because all I have experienced in my life, not only as a footballer, all that I have learnt, will be available for them.
“I will help and support them to fulfil their dream, but ultimately it depends on them and how much they want it, they must understand this is not the final result and what people don’t see behind the success is the hours and hours of hard work and sacrifice. To change the reality you must change your mentality.
“I would like to have good results to pay back the trust the club have put in me. And the most important thing for me is to produce two or three players who can play in the first team next season,” he added, while thanking Al Wahda’s head coach and fellow Romanian Laurentiu Reghecampf for giving him his chance in the UAE capital.
“He was very important, he told me about this opportunity and encouraged me to accept it. I like the city and the people are very nice to me. I’m looking forward to my family joining me here.”
Asked if he thought 33-year-old five-time Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus would help Italy become the best league in the world again, Mutu, who scored over 100 Serie A goals and was a three-time best foreign player there, replied: “I hope so, but let me tell you something, Serie A is very tough and to play at the highest level you need to be prepared.”
Mutu won two Serie A titles while at Juventus in 2005 and 2006, but both were revoked due to a match-fixing scandal involving clubs (not players) plotting with officials to select favourable referees. It was this that sparked the Italian league’s downfall.