Millionaire dreams of a club: Maradona president, Messi star

March 4th, 2009 - 1:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, March 4 (DPA) Sulaiman Al Fahim has a dream: he wants to buy a small football club to let Diego Maradona lead it off the pitch as president and Lionel Messi take it to greatness as its star.

Since Al Fahim’s fortune is massive and since this philanthropist and property tycoon has already bought Manchester City, his dreams may well come true.

“I don’t know if Diego Maradona can be a good coach. I think he has to be the chairman of a club and have the right to choose and buy players.

“In Napoli he started from zero and built the club, he has the quality to change football teams,” Al Fahim told DPA in an interview.

A goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, Al Fahim is, at age 31, a most successful businessman. Through his firm Hydra Properties he made a key contribution to Dubai’s property boom, even if he admits the city is now in a tough recession.

President of his country’s chess federation, he has just bought the prestigious Linares tournament, sometimes called “the Wimbledon of chess.” Earlier, he shook the world of football with the purchase of Manchester City in September 2008.

Al Fahim bought the club for his friend Sheikh Mansour bin Zahyed Al Nahyan, the son of the founder of the United Arab Emirates. Following some unfortunate comments, he is now out of Manchester City, however.

“The British media like it very much to put words in my mouth. They put many words I haven’t say,” he complains.

For a moment, he appears to be done with football.

“Some persons asked me to find a new club to buy. There were talks about Chelsea a few weeks ago, but I don’t want to buy any new club, one is enough,” he stresses. “I was never interested in buying Liverpool.”

His vision, rather, lies away from the limelight.

“I like the challenge of starting with something small and making it big. When it’s big, I leave it, and go back to work,” he says with glee.

The glimmer in the eyes of the pleasant Al Fahim particularly lights up whenever he talks about Argentine football legend - and current national team coach - Maradona.

“I’m a fan of Diego Maradona when he was playing for Argentina in ‘86, I was a fan of the player when he was in Napoli.”

Al Fahim - who lost both his parents and a younger brother in a traffic accident when he was 21 - has a well-rounded figure that will hardly let anyone imagine him as a football genius. That may well be why he admires Maradona, one of the greatest talents in the history of the sport.

“I’ve never met him, but hopefully I will soon,” he says.

Another Argentine, Lionel Messi, and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo are his favourite active players these days.

“Messi is a player that makes me love again Argentina. I love Argentina again.”

This millionaire believes that any European club that wants to grow has to buy “small clubs in Latin America”.

“You can have very good players at a cheap price,” Al Fahim says of his proposed methodology.

He often travels to Costa Rica to enjoy ecotourism, and he came close to buying a small football club in the Central American country.

Al Fahim’s smile goes away when he is reminded of UEFA president Michel Platini’s comments in reaction to the sale of Manchester City, in which the Frenchman called for an end to the arrival of foreign money in the Premier League.

“What’s the difference about having an Arabic owner, a Russian owner, a Thai owner?” he asks. “In the Premier League most of the owners are not from the UK.”

However, the smile returns almost as an outright laugh when he is asked about the reasons why Manchester City failed to sign Kaka when they tried to do so earlier this year, with an offer of $160 million for Milan and $22 million a year for the Brazilian superstar.

What went wrong?

“You should ask the management. I wasn’t involved in the deal,” he says with a smile.

Is Sheikh Mansour about to attempt another big signing soon?

“Honestly, I don’t know.”

Al Fahim is clearly upset about having been pushed out of Manchester City so soon, and to make up for the disappointment he has a dream: he wants to buy “one more club”.

“A European one, small… smaller than Manchester City,” he specifies.

He admits his people are “working on this”.

Should he find such a club, Maradona and Messi would do well to pay attention.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sports |