New Al Ain signing Andriy Yarmolenko says the opportunity of an exciting and fresh challenge, coupled with Serhiy Rebrov’s influence, convinced him to join the club, as he targets helping the UAE champions to more titles next season.
The Ukrainian, 32, was announced as an Al Ain player on Wednesday having signed a contract through until the end of next season. The former Dynamo Kyiv and Borussia Dortmund winger, who also sits second in his country’s all-time leading goalscoring list, left West Ham United last month after four seasons in the Premier League.
“To be honest, I’m so excited,” Yarmolenko told Al Ain official site. “For me, it’s an honour to be here. I’m happy to join this club. I want to learn new football, new religion. I want to meet new people, want to play with new teammates. Everyone needs to learn something new to improve.
“Of course, I was asking the manager about the club, and he said to me, ‘Listen, Andriy, everything here is the top level. If you move here, you will enjoy’. And after this call I just said, ‘OK I want to move here and play here at this amazing stadium’. Looks great.
"I can’t wait to play here, going to help the team win the titles, demonstrate a great game.”
At Al Ain, Yarmolenko joins compatriot Rebrov, who as manager guided the Garden City club to the Adnoc Pro League title last season – in his debut campaign in UAE football. Yarmolenko knows the former international striker well having won back-to-back Ukrainian league titles in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons while working under Rebrov at Kyiv.
Rebrov, who last month signed a year’s extension with Al Ain through until the conclusion of next season, is recognised as one of his country’s finest ever players.
“For me he was an idol,” Yarmolenko said. “I know him, I know his style of football. I’m really happy to work with him again. I just want to promise to work hard, train hard - on this pitch I will give 100 per cent, and hopefully we’re going to win lots of titles.
“I would like to thank Serghi Rebrov for his trust in my skills and being selected to be part of his team boosts my desire to spare no effort in assisting this great club and exhibit my genuine fighting spirit.
“As a matter of fact, when Sergiy Rebrov joined as the head coach of Al Ain, we Ukrainians were keen to search for the club, and we followed its news a lot, especially since Sergiy Rebrov is one of the football legends in my country.”
Yarmolenko, meanwhile, sits third in his national team's all-time list for appearances, with 109 caps, including competing at the European Championship in 2012, 2016 and 2020. He has scored 45 goals, second only to Andriy Shevchenko.
On his ambitions at Al Ain, the 14-time UAE champions, Yarmolenko said: “I am well aware of what I am meant to do in this new challenge while playing for one of the biggest clubs in Asia, especially since I love challenges that are related to exceptional experiences.
“While I am here, I look forward to contributing to winning more titles, and we have all the reasons that enable us to achieve our ambitions as a team and being a strong and big club.
“I know Al Ain well and that they are have won 14 [top-flight] titles and are the only Emirati Club to win the Asian Champions League. I know they call Al Ain ‘Boss’."