Former Spain  and Real Madrid star Michel Salgado  believes the Gulf region has adequate potential to produce top-class international footballers — provided they have the proper guidance and direction during their formative years.
“I have been in this place for some time now and I can see the gradual improvement made by the young players over a period of time. The most important thing is to bring in the right programmes that will be handled by qualified and dedicated coaches, and it won’t be long before we can have some quality football players coming out of the region,” Salgado told Gulf News at the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) on Wednesday.
The former right back, who also played for Blackburn Rovers in England, was the main speaker at the launch of the ambitious Dubai Schools Football Cup (DSFC), which is scheduled to kick off at the Dubai Sports City Football Academy from January 11.
More than 100 teams from 50 Dubai schools will compete in four separate age categories for the grand prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to Old Trafford to attend a match featuring Manchester United. The four winning teams also stand a chance of winning a full-day football training clinic conducted by top Manchester United coaches.
“I can vouch for some of the talented young players that we have with us at the academy. They have the ambition and they dream of making it big in world football, and I don’t see why they cannot achieve this,” Salgado said.
Salgado, who made 53 appearances for Spain, insisted he can already see the results of better footballers here after just seven years of the professional league. “European countries have had professionalism since so many decades now, so it is not right to have UAE football change within a few years. I am confident that if we work together with the right people we can start producing top footballers in the future,” Salgado added.
The DSFC is being organised along with Inspiratus and Dubai Sports City Football Academy under the auspices of Dubai Educational Zone and the Princess Haya Initiative for the Development of Health, Physical Education and School Sports in partnership with DSC.