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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

'Did you renew Daddy?' Sebastian Tagliabue says family a key factor in signing new Al Wahda deal

The Argentine forward, 33, signed a two-year deal earlier this month having joined the Abu Dhabi side in 2013

Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue won the Golden Ball Award for Best Foreign Player at the recent Arabian Gulf League Awards in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson / The National
Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue won the Golden Ball Award for Best Foreign Player at the recent Arabian Gulf League Awards in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson / The National

Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue says his family played a key role in his decision to renew his contract as he looks now to firing the club to trophies next season.

The Argentine forward, 33, signed a two-year deal earlier this month having joined the Abu Dhabi side in 2013.

Tagliabue has been one of the Arabian Gulf League’s finest imports, scoring 110 goals in 112 top-flight appearances. During his time at Wahda, he has helped the club win one President’s Cup and two League Cup crowns, the most recent of which coming in March.

This season, Tagliabue scored 23 league goals – bettered only by Al Ain’s Marcus Berg – as Wahda finished runners-up to the Garden City club. At the Arabian Gulf League Awards last Thursday, he was named the division’s best foreign player for the 2017/18 campaign – the second time he was collected the honour.

Tagliabue’s goalscoring record had attracted a number of suitors from both inside and outside the UAE, but he confirmed his preference was always to remain at Wahda.

Speaking about his new contract, he said: “Amazing, amazing. Because I always say that this is my second home and I appreciate Al Wahda a lot. My family, too. My kids asked me every day ‘did you renew Daddy? Did you renew?’ and when I said ‘yes’ they hugged me and said ‘thank you Daddy’ because they wanted to stay here. And this is the most important for me.

“I always said to [chairman] Ahmed Al Rumaithi that Wahda have the priority to renew my contract. But sometimes I had to hear another offer. There is always somebody better and somebody worse than everyone. But in the end, we decided with my family to stay and continue in this amazing country.”

With new contract signed, Tagliabue is focused now on improving upon this campaign when Wahda again go in search of silverware next season. The capital club represented Al Ain's main rivals for the title until they suffered a 6-2 defeat to the eventual champions in early March.

“As a team, we were very good but we could do better,” he said. “In the last one, two months our level came down a little. And individually, the same: I had a good season, but my level also came down the last two, three games.

“Because we played a lot, with nerves and pressure, and in the end we suffered from this. But we will be much better next season. And I hope to be better than I was this season as well.”