UAE's samba star - Emirates24|7

UAE's samba star

Brazil Bound: Abdullah Al Kamali, the first Arab player to play in the Brazilian Serie A, has swapped Al Wasl for Atletico Paranaense (DENNIS B MALLARI)

The press-pack that accompanied Abdullah Al Kamali's conference could have been designed for Kaka or Ronaldinho. Replete with pictures, an in-depth profile and details of the emerging star's own website, the dossier chartering his "journey to professionalism" looked like the work of a proficient PR company.

Surprisingly, though, it marked the labours of a gushing father, unable to contain his pride at the young striker's historic move.

Only 18-years-old, his son has become the first Arab footballer to sign professional terms with a top Brazilian club.

Kamali – a product of the Al Wasl youth system – scored 23 goals for the junior side last season to attract the attention of some of South America's finest clubs.

His remarkable goalscoring feat finally convinced Atletico Paranaense to secure the Emirati on a one-year deal, with a view to extending the contract for another two years should he impress his new employers.

The man Kamali credits for his meteoric rise believes he has the ingredients to do just that and become a samba superstar.

"He will become a big player and develop a lot within himself," confirms Marco Aurelio, his Brazilian coach at Al Wasl, confidently. "He will be a very good professional player and I believe a lot in his future.

"His step is unbelieveable for UAE history because every player dreams of playing in Brazil. The UAE must be very proud today to be a player exporter, especially to the land of football that is Brazil."

The thrilled trainer has since travelled home to witness firsthand the excitement caused by Kamali's transfer. Seemingly the hullabaloo surrounding the deal, when it was announced to the media some seven thousand miles away, was not unique.

"Right after the press conference all the Brazilian websites popped up the news of the signing so people who had not even heard of the UAE saw it," he says. "I received calls from friends in the United States and many many Atletico Paranaense fans all over the world phoned us or sent messages by e-mail.

"The Brazilian sports news, and even the ordinary news programmes, immediately put the story on air, so it's a very important step in UAE football history. The fact Abdullah made this move has put up the name of UAE football to the world."

The frenzy created by Kamali's move may seem a little excessive for a player who has yet to star in the etisalat League. However, his 18 goals for Al Wasl's U-20 side, as well as five for the U-18s, was enough to cement Aurelio's feeling that he has what it takes to play abroad. The player's commitment in training further reinforced that belief.

"When I saw Abdullah in the first training session I realised immediately he was a different player," recalls the Brazilian fondly. "At the beginning we used to conduct a lot of lectures to familiarise ourselves with the players and he always paid attention.

"Normally the players look here and there or keep their heads down, but Abdullah watched me and would sometimes ask questions on how to improve. And when I answered him? Right away in training I could see he was doing exactly what I told him to do, and that made him different to others.

"When we went on to the field he would do things like break quickly, not hold the ball a lot, keep his head up to see players in better positions and look at the goalkeeper before he shoots. He put them into practice immediately. So I realised he is no ordinary player and that I could work with him in depth and quickly make him a better player."

The seven-minute-long DVD given out at the press conference, which showcases Kamali's precocious talents, proves the forward was listening to his trainer. His father spent the best part of a year compiling the footage, an indication of the work that has gone into making the dream move possible.

Kamali has already sampled life in South America. In 2007, he travelled to Goias to prepare for his professional career, a time that allowed him to sample samba-style football. Aurelio believes the experience will prove invaluable and is confident of a smooth transition when his protégé sets off from Dubai again, this time to the thriving footballing city of Curitiba.

"He still requires some time to adapt to the style of football physically," says the coach.

"He'll get a very heavy load of training but we knew about that. That's why I brought him to Brazil last year, to do the first steps of adjustment, and it surprised us all how quickly he adapted to the Brazilian players.

"He made friends very quickly and, during his trial match at Goias, he was looking like a local player. But he has a good mind for this and we knew he would. Since he was nine years old he has been travelling to training camps at different clubs, sometimes alone, so he is an international guy already.

"Of course, we all get homesick no matter what age we are, but his character is very strong and he believes in his dreams. These are small details that I have no doubt he will get over."

The Kamali camp have thought long and hard about the move and have organised everything down to the smallest detail. He will arrive a month early, to gain fitness and to hone his physical attributes, and the club have already organised a Portuguese teacher to work with him daily.

Aurelio also plans to spend the first 10 days with his star pupil and believes that once he makes his debut he will impress in his new surroundings. Football-loving Brazilians expect a certain amount of zest to go with their zeal, but Aurelio is sure Kamali can deliver.

"He will inspire because those tricks that you see the Brazilian stars doing he used to show in our training and our matches," continues the coach. "He's a smart player; he's not shy. When he's on the field he tries to show his best skills.

"In Brazil we have thousands of coaches and millions of players so we don't need to import. If you look into the internal market you can find the best coaches and the best players in the world, so that shows you that Abdullah has what it takes."

"And he will develop much more at Atletico," he adds. "They are the most organised club in South America and perhaps even the world. A few years ago they brought Lothar Matthaus as head coach and he was surprised when he saw the facilities and the amazing power of Atletico Paranaense.

"Their technology is the best around and they understand that this is a very precious time for Abdullah to fix his mind and his body. But Atletico is the best place to do this. I believe the club can put him in the shop window to attract the big European teams. They already have contacts there."

Atletico have already helped develop the talents of players such as Santos, Bellini and Kleberson. Kamali, like his press-pack intimates, could be the next name on the club's impressive role of honour.

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