World Cup winner Andres Iniesta received a warm welcome from the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah as he embarks on what is expected to be the final chapter of a storied footballing career.
The Spanish midfielder, who won nine league titles and four Champions League crowns with Spanish giants Barcelona, completed a move to Ras Al Khaimah's newly-promoted Adnoc Pro League side, Emirates Club, last week.
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi hosted Iniesta, 39, and his family at an official reception in the emirate on Tuesday held in honour of his transfer.
Sheikh Saud was joined at the gathering by Youssef Al Batran, chairman of Emirates Club, state news agency Wam reported.
Sheikh Saud wished the player well and praised his achievements during a glittering career.
He said his signing would inspire future generations to take up the sport and would help advance the professional game in the UAE.
Iniesta expressed his thanks to Sheikh Saud for his hospitality and told of his desire to contribute to the growth of his new team.
Ready to give 100 per cent
Iniesta arrived in Ras Al Khaimah after five years in Japan with Vissel Kobe.
He spent 22 trophy-laden years at Barcelona, winning 22 major titles.
Meanwhile, in a 133-cap international career, Iniesta helped Spain capture the 2010 World Cup – he scored the winner in the final – and two European Championship crowns, in 2008 and 2012.
Speaking to The National after he was introduced to the media as Emirates Club’s star addition last week, Iniesta said the overall project presented to him was the decisive factor in choosing the UAE.
“I'm very excited, very eager to keep playing football, to continue my career and try to help my teammates and my club to keep growing,” Iniesta said. “And like in every decision I've made, I want to help and I want to keep enjoying football.
“I hope I can make a maximum impact, in everything I can do and accomplish at football, the academy and training level. I'm 100 per cent focused in accomplishing that.”
Iniesta is expected to make his debut in the club’s 2023-2024 league season opener at Al Wasl on Saturday.