Fabio De Lima arrived as a nobody at Al Wasl five years and transformed himself into an Arabian Gulf League legend.
De Lima, 25, has netted 93 times in 116 top-flight matches since an initial two-year loan was inked from Atletico Goianiense.
These supreme performances have not gone unnoticed. Sport360 talked to the forward about enduring links to Saudi Arabia, representing the UAE and life at Al Wasl:
Tell us about your beginnings with football, surely there were many odds?
My beginning in soccer was a little bit difficult, like many Brazilian players. My family was lower middle class, with a few opportunities.
But I became a professional footballer at age 16. I left Brazil at 20-years old and I am still in the UAE at 25. I’m very proud to have reached these objectives.
You are the best foreign scorer in the history of Al Wasl, what does this mean to you?
It is an honour to have achieved that number of goals in a club of the greatness of Al Wasl. Many good players worked here and this makes this achievement even bigger. There have been five seasons with more than 120 goals – and I hope that many others will come next season.
Why did you refuse to leave when Saudi clubs negotiated for you?
I had some proposals last summer and during the season, but I chose to stay for a few reasons.
There was a proposal in which I thought it was not the time to leave, because the club [Wasl] was not doing very well in the league and I wanted to help.
In the other case, Al Wasl, themselves, did not even consider accepting the offer.
If Al Hilal or Al Nassr make offers for you, which would you choose?
They are big clubs, the largest in Saudi Arabia, in my opinion. But, I’m an Al Wasl player, my focus is working here while wearing that yellow shirt.
Why did Al Wasl fall in comparison to previous seasons? Did ex-coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s departure affect the team?
The departure of the coach affected the team a little, because he had the group in hand and we trusted him a lot. These exchanges did not work very well, but we will continue working for the best results.
Who was the best local and foreign player in the UAE league last season?
In my opinion, the best local player was Majed (Hassan), of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, and the best foreigner was Igor (Coronado) from Sharjah.
Some are talking about the fact that you will get UAE nationality and play for the team in the coming period. What is your comment on this?
This comment has been made for years, but I didn’t receive any invitation. I know the players well and the local soccer, because I’ve spent almost six years in the country. It would be an honour to naturalise me in the UAE and play for the national team.
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