Dubai: Al Wahda star Sebastian Tagliabue has set himself the goal of winning the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) before his contract with the club runs out at the end of next season.
Tagliabue, who turned 35 last February, is among the longest-serving foreign professionals in the AGL. Having signed a long-term contract with Al Wahda in June 2013, the Argentine has been known for his discipline and demeanour on the field and as a warm personality off it.
The Argentinian started off his career with Primera C side Club Atletico Colegiales in Paraguay in 2003. He was surprisingly picked up by Primera Division League side Everton of Chile after which he made his way to Saudi Arabia and then to Al Wahda. During the past six years with the club, Al Wahda have gone on to win the 2017 President’s Cup, the UAE League Cup in 2018 followed by back-to-back UAE Super Cups in 2017 and 2018.
Four-time champions in the AGL, Al Wahda last won the competition at the end of the 2009-10 season. “I have one more year on my contract and one more season to being home the Arabian Gulf League,” Tagliabue told media after the season-ending AGL Awards held at Madinat Jumeirah last Friday.
“We are Al Wahda and we need to fight for the title next season. Perhaps it is my last one here in the UAE, and I am grateful to be here with such a fantastic set of players.”
Though 35, Tagliabue is known for his hard work and eye for perfection during training. On the pitch he has proved to be a real poacher in front of goal, making the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) at one time to even mull on the idea of handing him an emirati passport so that he could play for the national team.
“All that is in the past now, and we need to look at what lies in the future for me and for Al Wahda. We have a wonderful set of players and a coach, who is capable of leading our ambitions for a league crown yet again,” Tagliabue said.
“There is really no secret in what I have achieved or Al Wahda has achieved in the past. It all boils down to hard work and a thirst for perfection. So knowing this, we’ve got to stick to the same principles and try and win the league next season.”
Sharjah went on to win the league this year, but Al Wahda were among the fastest improving sides as they ended in fifth overall with a record of 13 wins and eight losses for a total of 43 points. “We could have been better no doubt,” Tagliabue admitted. “But at this stage I would like to believe that we can be better next year.”