x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Their battling spirit helped the start of a love affair

My team Arriving in Abu Dhabi at the start of this year as a football-mad Englishman I was immediately trying to look for ways to stay involved with the beautiful game.

Al Wahda's Ismail Matar is an icon of the club.
Al Wahda's Ismail Matar is an icon of the club.

Arriving in Abu Dhabi at the start of this year as a football-mad Englishman I was immediately trying to look for ways to stay involved with the beautiful game. While the Premier League games and Spanish football could be watched on television, it just was not the same as watching a game in the flesh. So when I discovered there was a UAE club named Al Wahda based near the hotel where I was staying, I decided their home game with Al Ahli would be ideal to scratch the itch I had to see some live action.

While the 12,000 capacity Al Nahyan stadium may have seen better days, it still created a good atmosphere. Indeed you haven't lived until you've heard Queen's We Will Rock You sung by the club's designated singers. Now I'd be lying if I said the quality of the football blew me away as both sides huffed and puffed, but there was something about the battling spirit of Wahda's side that struck a chord.

It was the start of a love affair as I continued to go to Wahda games and began to get behind the team, even buying a replica shirt in the process. Admittedly it was almost three months before I saw them win a match, but in a way seeing them struggle made the feeling of victory that much sweeter - even better that the success came against their city rivals Al Jazira. Disappointment, frustration, delight and enjoyment are among the emotions Wahda have given me over the last 11 months and have helped Abu Dhabi certainly feel a little more like home.