Maradona, Parreira, Cannavaro - the World Cup winners with UAE connections - in pictures

Ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup starting June 14, John McAuley reflects on past winner's of the biggest prize in football and their UAE connections

A number of past World Cup standouts have contributed to UAE football. Here, we chose some of the most notable who have called the Emirates home.

Diego Maradona

World Cup-winning captain with Argentina in 1986 and manager of his national team in 2010, he manned the Al Wasl dugout between 2011 and 2012 and then managed Fujairah for one year until this April. Also served as a Dubai Sports Council ambassador.

Carlos Alberto Parreira

The only manager to lead five different countries at a World Cup, the Brazilian guided his homeland to the title in 1994. By that stage, he had already managed the UAE twice, stepping into the breach in 1990 following Mario Zagallo’s departure. It remains the UAE’s only World Cup appearance.

Fabio Cannavaro

Captained Italy to victory in 2006, when the Azzurri prevailed on penalties. Ended a hugely successful club career at Al Ahli, joining directly after the 2010 World Cup although injury restricted him to one season. Then joined Cosmin Olaroiu's coaching staff.


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The former Brazil full-back, a member of the successful 1994 World Cup side and then assistant manager between 2006-2010, was appointed Al Wasl manager in 2014. Lasted only four months at the Zabeel Stadium, taking charge of six competitive matches, winning once.

David Trezeguet

Part of the France squad that lifted the 1998 World Cup, the forward also appeared in the 2006 final, missing his penalty in the shoot-out. Joined Baniyas in 2011, but stayed only a few months, and two league matches, citing injury as reason for leaving.

Luca Toni

Named in the team of the tournament in 2006 having helped Italy capture the title, the striker eventually signed for Al Nasr in January 2012. Was released five months later having failed to impress the Dubai club. Scored five times in 10 appearances.


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Walter Zenga – Italy goalkeeper in 1990; managed Al Ain, Al Nasr, Al Jazira and Al Shaab.

Asamoah Gyan – Africa's highest-scorer at the World Cup; starred at Al Ain before a modest spell at Al Ahli.

Jorge Valdivia – Part of Chile's team in 2010 and 2014; starred for Al Ain and latterly played for Al Wahda.

Roy Hodgson – England manager in 2014; was in charge of the UAE between 2002-2004.

Bruno Metsu – Masterminded Senegal's shock win against holders France in 2002; managed the UAE, Al Ain - both with success - and Al Wasl.

Phillip Cocu – Represented the Netherlands in 1998 and 2006 and was assistant manager when runners-up in 2010; played for Al Jazira.