ABU DHABI // Two former greats of domestic and international football were in the capital this week to help kick off AD Sports' coverage of the English Premier League. The Welshman Ian Rush, Liverpool's all-time leading scorer with 346 goals, and the French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly wrapped up a tour of the capital by filming a pre-season preview for the Barclays Premier League programmes beginning today on AD Sports Arabic pay-TV channels. Both former players will be pundits for the channel.
AD Sports is owned by Abu Dhabi Media Company, which publishes The National. "We've been all around here - the mosque, Yas Island, had a look around Marina Mall - the sights are fantastic,"Rush said from Emirates Palace hotel before flying back to the UK yesterday. "We've got the [Premier League] trophy with us, so we're going to be doing a bit of filming with that, and we've got the kids out as well trying to enjoy the football."
As for how he was coping with the summer heat since landing on Sunday, Rush said he was thankful to be able to film inside the TV studio. "I've been here a few times - Abu Dhabi and Dubai - but that was maybe around January or February," he said. "This is the first time I've been out this time of year. There's not much you can do about it. Now I know you don't go outdoors." Desailly was more acclimatised, having played in Doha for two years. "I'm used to the region," the former AC Milan and Chelsea defender said.
Although he had not yet watched any UAE football, Desailly hoped to eventually have the opportunity to assess the local standard of play. "I've not watched any matches yet, but I think the level has been raised," he said. "They're trying to bring some experienced players, who are mainly professional, and they have the facilities." Several fans had already spotted Desailly in the capital and he chatted with them about expectations for future games.
"I'm just happy that the Emirates loves the Premier League like this," he said. "I'm retired and I said to myself that I would try to do anything and work for anybody who wants to bring energy and exposure to football, and the Premier League today is the most important league in the world." The Premier League starts this weekend on AD Sports channels. A dedicated studio at White Hart Lane, the Tottenham stadium, will deliver the live feed of Saturday's first match between the north Londoners and Manchester City to AD Sports Arabic pay-TV channels.
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