x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Fernando Baiano bids farewell to the UAE

Al Wahda's Brazilian forward has decided it is time to return to his native country after a decade away from home.

Fernando Baiano, centre, has played in the Pro League for four years, three at Al Wahda after his first season at capital rivals Al Jazira
Fernando Baiano, centre, has played in the Pro League for four years, three at Al Wahda after his first season at capital rivals Al Jazira

After travelling the world playing football for the past decade, Fernando Baiano says it is time for him to return for good to his native Brazil.

From Germany to Spain to the UAE, the 33-year-old striker has spent all but one season since 2003 playing outside his homeland.

He has spent the past four seasons in the Pro League, first at Al Jazira and the last three at Al Wahda, scoring more than 80 goals in all competitions.

"It has been a wonderful journey for me," Baiano said in an interview with Prime Time Sports Channel.

"I have had a good time living out of Brazil and now I feel a bit home sick. I want to get back home and play some football in Brazil."

He won a league title, a Super Cup medal and played in the Club World Cup at Wahda.

"My time in the UAE has been really wonderful and it has left a lasting memory," Baiano said. "I am happy I achieved a couple of titles for Wahda."

Baiano left Brazil in 2003 to play in the German Bundesliga for Wolfsburg, scoring 11 goals in one season. After one season back in Brazil, he returned to Europe two years later for spells in the Primera Liga in Spain with Malaga, Celta Vigo and Murcia before his arrival at Jazira.

Josef Hickersberger, the outgoing coach coach at Wahda, thinks Baiano could still play a role for any professional club.

"He has scored some fantastic goals for us and helped us win the league in 2010, but hasn't been at his best this season because of an injury at the start of the season," Hickersberger said. "Nevertheless, he still can be a pretty good player for any club side. One of his greatest qualities is that he will not give up and doesn't like to be left out from the line-up."

After topping the scoring charts in his first season at Jazira, they offered him a one-year extension, but Baiano wanted a three-year contract and joined neighbours Wahda.

"Baiano had made a big impression in his first year in the Pro League and we grabbed the opportunity to sign him on a three-year deal," Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive of Wahda, said.

"He was full value for our money. He made a lot of difference by scoring some great goals to win the league for us.

"And now he has served us the full three years and we can't ask him for more. We wish him the very best on his future endeavours."

Baiano's time at Wahda was not without off-field incidents. He was involved in a motor accident earlier this season and spent a week in police custody.

He was driving a Lamborghini when he collided with Salem Masoud, the Al Jazira player, in a BMW X6 in the early morning hours of November 29 on Sheikh Zayed Bridge heading into Abu Dhabi. A taxi was also involved. Haider Ali, Baiano's teammate and the Wahda captain, thought it was one of those incidents when a fun ride went wrong. "No serious damage was done and he learnt a lesson from it," Ali said. "I think as a player and teammate he is a cheerful person and friend.

"And as a player, he has nothing to prove. He has scored some fantastic goals for us and helped the team win the league. He is very friendly person but when it comes to playing team, he is very serious, be it training or game."

Hickersberger said he sees Baiano as a very reserved and quiet person, but says he sometimes does not have the patience he should.

"He wants to play even when he is not 100 per cent," Hickersberger said. "That's a great attribute from a player because not many would risk injury.

"And that also shows that he is a good team man and plays with a lot of passion for his team."

Hickersberger, too, will join Baiano on the way out of Wahda. They will be joined by the two other Brazilians, Magrao and Hugo, as none of their contracts are to be renewed after their last league game against Emirates in Ras Al Khaimah on Sunday.

apassela@thenational.ae

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