Sublime Sharjah playmaker Igor Coronado declared “a lot of questions” posed after last July’s bold decision to quit Italian football have been emphatically answered by ample Arabian Gulf League glory.
Coronado, 26, came away with the prestigious ‘The Golden Ball – Best Foreign Player’ gong from Friday night’s 2018/19 AGL Awards thanks to his pivotal role in his new club’s shock first top-flight triumph in 23 years. The Brazilian’s 17 goals and nine assists provided an instant return on the €6 million fee paid to – then – Serie B outfit Palermo.
A memorable event for the King at Madinat Jumeirah was added to when Abdulaziz Al Anbari was named ‘The Leader – Best Coach’ and Adel Al Hosani selected as ‘Golden Glove – Best Goalkeeper’. Elsewhere, Al Jazira conductor Khalfan Mubarak was chosen as ‘The Golden Ball – Best Emirati Player’ and Al Wasl prospect Ali Saleh took home the ‘Golden Boy – Best Young Player’ prize.
For Coronado, these achievements justify saying ‘arrivederci’ to the European game.
He said: “It was not easy. There was a lot of questions asked for me when I came here.
“Taking the league and have this [AGL Award] in my hand now… I think it answers all the questions, why was the reason I came here.
“Now, we just have to enjoy this moment.
“I am very happy to win this right now. I put in a lot of work during the year.”
Coronado has taken a long and winding route to the UAE.
A career that began with Milton Keynes Dons has also included stints in Switzerland with Grasshoppers’ reserves, a spell in the English seventh tier with Banbury United, breakthrough with Malta’s Floriana and then Serie C’s Trapani.
Could another move up the football food chain be in the reckoning? It didn’t sound like it in Dubai.
“Yes, yes yes,” Coronado replied when asked if he was staying. “I have three years [remaining on his contract] with Sharjah.”
The mastermind behind a golden 2018/19 was Al Anbari. The 41-year-old club stalwart’s efforts were exalted by Coronado.
“He was great, really good,” said the attacker. “Especially towards the end, I really appreciated how he dealt with the difficult situation.
“He was a great manager throughout the year – with the locals and the foreigners. Everyone was treated the same.
“It was really nice working with the coaching staff.”
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