In course of the 2019 Amir Cup final that saw the inauguration of the newly-built FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 venue, Al Janoub Stadium, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy invited Brazil’s ex-star player Cafu, former French international footballer Youri Djorkaeff and Argentinian player Pablo Zabaleta to Doha.
During this stay, they were welcome at Aspire Academy on Friday, where they had the opportunity to find more about its involvement in developing Qatar’s most promising young athletes and football players. “These facilities are absolutely amazing, and it provides an athlete everything to become better and I am sure Qatar’s athletes are benefiting a lot from it”, said Zabaleta.
The 34-year-old Argentinian right back is currently playing for West Ham United after spending almost a decade playing for Manchester City, in which spell he won two Premier League titles. To him it was the second visit to Qatar after facing Brazil in a friendly with the Argentina national team in 2010. “Being at the Amir Cup was an amazing experience, the organisation was fantastic, and I am looking forward when the World Cup gets underway here in three years’ time.”
To two-time FIFA World Cup winner Cafu, Aspire Academy is the ideal place for athletes to develop. “I think there should be more academies in the world like this. It’s a way to reveal great talents and to give them the best conditions to flourish. Something that we could see first-hand in the Amir Cup final,” said the 2006-07 UEFA Champions League winner with AC Milan. “Qatar is getting better each year in terms of player development; infrastructure and the 2022 World Cup is going to open doors to get to know a new culture.”
Former French midfielder Djorkaeff, who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000, is convinced that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is going to be an extraordinary event. “Being here at Aspire Academy, you can see first-hand that there was a clear vision and they put everything in place that a sportsman needs. This clearly shows the determination of Qatar towards the journey to excellence in sports.”
The 51-year-old, who played in Italy, Germany, England and the USA, is also quite optimistic about the expectations for the French national team. “I saw one of the World Cup stadiums yesterday and I am impressed by the preparations. And I am looking forward to the upcoming World Cup, especially since France will go there with a very strong team that will be able to win.”
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