Dubai: Wanderley Santos Junior, the Brazilian striker at Al Nasr, wants to make up for lost time in his first full season with the Blues. “I want to be the highest scorer this season,” he says, trying to shrug off a less-than-memorable bygone season.
Born on October 11, 1988, in Campinas, Brazil ‘Wanderley’ made the switch to Al Nasr midway last year after spending a season and a half with Sharjah Club — only to have his world crashing down.
In 2016, Wanderley had acquired an Indonesian passport and that would have made him the first player of Indonesian nationality in the history of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL). However, exactly a year back, Wanderley was suspended for 60 days, when it was concluded that his passport was a ‘fake document.’
The consequences had to be borne by Al Nasr as the Blues were forced to forfeit a match that they had won against Al Jaish of Jordan and were eventually eliminated from the 2016 AFC Champions League. Now, one year later and less than a month before he turns 29, Wanderley has the opportunity to redeem himself.
Last week, Wanderley opened his account for Al Nasr with the second goal in the Blues’ 3-0 win over newly promoted Ajman Club in their Arabian Gulf Cup opener and give Italian Cesare Prandelli his first win in-charge.
“We hope we can continue with the same spirit. We have a full season ahead of us. This is a big club and I am here to honour my potential and the ambitions of the club. We must show something different. We must prove that we are different. I know my responsibility and I know God will help me as I’ve got this opportunity to show my quality. The club has been more than supportive towards me, on and off the pitch and I am grateful for that,” Wanderley told Gulf News.
“It was our first game and everybody was nervous to show something. After the first 30 minutes, we were more relaxed and we showed what we are capable of,” he added.
Assisting Wanderley upfront will be fellow Brazilian and Flamengo striker Marcelo Cirino da Silva, nearly four years his junior. Da Silva’s transfer to Flamengo in 2015 had been the highest transfer fee in the club’s history so far. “We speak the same language and the fact that we played at the same club [Flamengo], but not at the same time gives us a sort of bonding. He [Da silva] is a fast player and I am sure he is there to help our team. He will adapt fast and this is important for all of us,” Wanderley noted.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I want to be the topscorer this season. All strikers must think like this. I work for this even after my training is over. I must fight for this position. This is the only way I can help my team realise our joint goals,” he added.
“I want the league title. This is a great club and we deserve big things this season. I also know this won’t be easy but I will prepare myself and fight for it.”