Everton Ribeiro’s beaming smile was a feature of Saturday’s 2015/16 Arabian Gulf League Awards ceremony – but it masks an inner thirst to succeed.
The event might have been a celebratory salute to the cream of the crop at the end of the AGL season, but the diminutive Brazilian is targeting further success with the Red Knights – starting with this year’s President’s Cup.
The gifted playmaker, 27, was named in the league’s Best XI at Emirates Palace. It was fully deserved following some mesmeric performances for Cosmin Olaroiu’s title winners.
The six-times capped Brazil international scored nine goals and recorded nine assists in a fine first full season in the Emirates, which, he says, will not be his last.
“I’m very happy, my family is with me and I really like it here, and I’m proud to play for Al Ahli,” said the former Corinthians and Cruzeiro man. “When I came here, I was thinking one thing: win the league, be champions. I’m very happy to make it to the best XI and now I continue for other things, because I like this… I like to win trophies.
“I’m so happy to take this trophy (AGL title). It’s very important to me because I fight with the team and it’s the first target. I want more. I want to win the President’s Cup. Last season, we were so close. Now we have a chance to finish the season well and we will try for that.
“After that, we’ll come back hungry for the league and the Champions League again.”
Although Ribeiro’s arrival in the Emirates last February cannot be heralded as Ahli’s defining saving grace in an otherwise trophyless domestic campaign, it did certainly coincide with an upturn in fortunes.
Ribeiro signed a few weeks before the Champions League group stages kicked off and was instrumental in their miraculous run to the final, where the Red Knights were only beaten 1-0 on aggregate by China’s Guangzhou Evergrande.
He notched four goals and three assists en-route to the final and the Brazilian admits becoming just the second UAE team to win the Champions League, after Al Ain in 2003, remains a key objective for him and the team.
“We talk every time about this because we went so close but we could not grab it,” said Ribeiro. “We will fight again for this championship because it’s very important for us. This is a big target. Now we have the experience and we go stronger for the next step.”
Olaroiu’s future at Rashid Stadium might be under the microscope at the moment, but Ribeiro insists the Romanian is key to any future success for the club.
He added: “Cosmin is the best coach. If he stays we will have more chance for next season.”
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