x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Holman confident Al Nasr switch from Aston Villa will not affect Australia fate

Midfielder and his family love Dubai and is impressed with the ambitions of his new employers.

Brett Holman was running out for Aston Villa this season in the Premier League, and also made appearances with Australia. Neville Williams / Getty Images
Brett Holman was running out for Aston Villa this season in the Premier League, and also made appearances with Australia. Neville Williams / Getty Images

DUBAI // New Al Nasr recruit Brett Holman conceded leaving European football was a tough decision, but the club's "ambitious project" convinced him to take the plunge.

The Australian left home for Dutch club Feyenoord in 2002 and spent the next 10 years in the Dutch Eredivisie, moving to NEC Nijmegen in 2006 and then to AZ Alkmaar two years later.

He failed to make much impact at Aston Villa last season, though, and with the World Cup just 12 months away, wanted to move to a team where he would feature more regularly.

Holman, 29, said he enjoyed his time at each of those clubs, so giving up the arclights of European football for the Arabian Gulf League was not an easy decision.

"It is a move that you have to put a lot of thought into," the midfielder said after being introduced as the Asian player for next two seasons. "It's a big step. The Premier League is a fantastic competition and I was at a great club, Aston Villa. They treated me really well, but it wasn't meant to be there. I have a lot of ambition and so does this club Al Nasr.

"I think everybody knows their history. They are an old club. Unfortunately for them, they haven't won a lot of trophies. That was very exciting, the project, to hear that the club has so much ambition to win a trophy. For me, I am ambitious, I love winning and it's going to be exciting."

Voted Australia's player of the year in 2012, Holman said he sought the advice of countrymen Alex Brosque, of Al Ain, and Mark Bresciano, who left Nasr for Qatar's Al Gharafa on less than amicable terms at the start of last season - before deciding to move to Dubai.

"Bresciano said he had a fantastic time here and he was very happy," Holman said.

"He said the football is good and he played some very good football, scored goals. The words that he passed on to me were only positive words and very comforting for me to make my decision.

"Brosque loves it here. He is very positive and his family loves it as well."

Holman said he and his family have fond memories of the UAE having visited in the past.

"I have been four or five times with my family for holidays," he said. "It's beautiful. My family likes it, the kids like it. So I think, and I hope, that I will be happy here.

"I am very excited. This is a fantastic step for me in my career. I am speaking on behalf of my family as well, my wife and my two kids. We are all excited to be here."

Holman said he did not speak to Lucas Neill, his national team captain who turned out for both Al Jazira and Al Wasl between 2011-13, about his move, but seeing him and Bresciano keep their place in the Socceroos squad after moving to the UAE had influenced his decision to join Nasr.

"Everybody thinks they come to Dubai and then they don't get picked for the national team anymore, but they [Neill and Bresciano] play every time," Holman said. "So it says enough about the level of football in Dubai and the competition - it's at a good level and a great standard.

"That was helpful for me. Playing for the national team, we can see how strong Asia is getting, especially the UAE. The national team has been very good and very competitive."

Having committed himself to the club for two years, Holman cannot wait to get started. He believes he has plenty to contribute as Nasr chase their first silverware since their President's Cup triumph of 1989.

"The board has spoken about a lot of ambitions to win trophies and that's what I am here to do," he said. "I have two years and hopefully I can prove myself and do a lot for this club to maybe get some silverware."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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