x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Kamali's example

Moving to a top European professional league is a dream for countless footballers - and reality for Al Wahda defender Hamdan Al Kamali. This is just the kind of news UAE football needs.

It is every young aspiring footballer's dream. And Hamdan Al Kamali is about to be the first Emirati to realise that dream: to play professional football in a top European league.

On Saturday, the 22-year-old Al Wahda defender flew to France to sign a half-season loan deal with Ligue 1 club Lyon after his club chairman, Sheikh Diab bin Zayed, agreed to allow the highly rated UAE international make the move.

For the sake of UAE football development, it is hoped that this will be the first of many such transfers. On these pages, we have consistently called for sending young Emirati talent to ply their trade in some of the high-profile leagues across Europe. Far too many gifted players have seen their development tail off and their careers stall because of the reluctance of their clubs to allow them to make these dream moves.

As Al Kamali is about to find out, playing week in week out with some of the world's best players will significantly improve his performance. In the long term, the UAE national team can only benefit.

The transfer of Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni from Italian giants Juventus to Al Nasr should not overshadow what should be a landmark move by Al Kamali. To be sure, Toni's wealth of experience will be valuable to his young Emirati teammates.

But the experience Al Kamali will gain in France is priceless.