Sebastian Tagliabue, the second-highest scorer in the history of the UAE top flight, is set to end his seven-year stay with Al Wahda by joining Arabian Gulf League rivals Al Nasr on July 1.
The Argentine striker, who now qualifies to represent the UAE, signed a two-year contract with the Dubai club late last week. He moves on a free transfer.
We caught up with Tagliabue to talk about choosing Nasr, ambitions with his new club, and why Wahda will forever hold a special place for him.
On why he chose Nasr
“Since I went into Al Nasr I felt really, really good. I feel inside the club there’s a good atmosphere, good conditions, the people are very straightforward. This is my first impression: that Al Nasr is family, a united team – an amazing feeling they gave me. I always say from the outside; we will see when I’m inside when I start training and meet the players. It was not about money, but the interest from Al Nasr. And Al Maktoum Stadium is a beautiful stadium – I’ve even started to imagine every game there. All these things made me decide on Al Nasr.”
On weighing up other possibilities
“Al Nasr were the first club that were very interested in me, and the only club who made an official offer. They demonstrated to me that they were very interested. Also, [UAE champions] Sharjah showed they were very interested in making a contract, but finally I decided on Al Nasr, because I feel they are a similar club to Al Wahda."
On playing under Nasr manager Krunoslav Jurcic
“When Al Nasr contacted me one of the first things I said to my wife is that the coach is very good. He and his staff have changed the mentality and the face of the team in the last year. They won the [Arabian Gulf Cup] this season, so I think Al Nasr is coming up and the coach has a lot of impact in this. I liked the coach when we played against them. In the cup final, he was very intelligent: he killed Shabab Al Ahli from the first minute with the Nasr goal. This didn’t come from the player; the goal came from the coach. So, of course, I’m happy to work with him.”
On his ambitions with Nasr
“I hope to win the league, which is also one of the reasons why I signed. I trust the management and know they are preparing the team to fight for the league. And to be champions, you need to have two teams: good players in the first XI and good players on the bench. From what I understand, they will look for something more in the market. My ambitions are always for the best - always I will look forward for everything. I will try to help win as much as we can. I think it’s a very good moment to reach Al Nasr."
On replacing outgoing captain Alvaro Negredo
"To be honest, I don't worry about that. I don't care who was before me. Even if it's Negredo, or somebody who scores a lot, or somebody who doesn't score, I have to do my job. The people will expect from the first game that I score and at the end to win titles. As you know, I have my own pressure and my own ambition. And, for sure, I will fight a lot for everything and try to score a lot from the beginning."
On his family’s reaction to the move
“From one side they are very happy because I have a new job, a new club and we’re still in the UAE. But from the other side, it’s painful to leave, which is normal because it’s been seven years here in Abu Dhabi and Al Wahda. So it’s not easy. My wife and my two boys are happy, but at the same time a little sad."
On his appreciation for Wahda
"My thanks to all 'Wahdawi', from the Sheikh to the last fan … all the chairmen, managers, players, coaches. But the most is to [club president] Sheikh Diab [bin Zayed Al Nahyan]. He has all my respect; I really thank him because he gave the chance to play for an amazing club like Al Wahda, renewing my contract three times. And also he gave me the chance to play in the national team because he believed in me. Al Wahda will always be in my heart. I will not say 'Bye-bye' but 'See you soon'. Maybe in the future I could come back; I don't close the door. I say thank you so much to everyone there."