Sebastian Tagliabue has achieved so much in a decorated spell with his beloved Al Wahda, but the veteran striker admits the lack of a league title in his six years with the club sometimes “doesn’t let me sleep”.
The Argentine is very much an anomaly in the transient environment of the UAE and Arabian Gulf League in-particular. He will head into his seventh season with the Clarets in 2019/20 – some players and coaches have left before completing seven games.
But the prolific marksman describes Wahda as “my second home in football” and he is desperate to lift an elusive AGL title – if only to silence iconic former club and UAE national team player Fahad Masoud, who is now in a management role at Al Nahyan Stadium.
“It is one thing left to achieve, the league title. Sometimes this doesn’t let me sleep,” the affable Tagliabue, known affectionately among Clarets fans as ‘Tigali’, told Sport360 on Wednesday evening after training.
“For example I was speaking to one person at the club yesterday, Fahad, and I asked him how many titles he has here at the club. He said four, but I have five. But then he told me ‘I have four leagues, so don’t speak’ so he totally kill me.
“Before I finish my career here, if I can take the league with Al Wahda, my career will be complete. If I take the league he cannot speak to me.”
Despite the AGL crown eluding both Tagliabue and the club – Wahda will head into the new season having not tasted league success in a decade – the 34-year-old has lifted a plethora of accolades in the UAE capital, both collective and individual.
He has hoisted the President’s Cup as well as two Arabian Gulf Cups and two UAE Super Cups – all in the last three seasons – while he has also twice finished top of the AGL scoring charts as well as being crowned AGL player of the year on as many occasions.
Arguably, his biggest individual feat arrived last term when he overtook iconic former Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan as the top-scoring foreign player in league history since the AGL turned professional 10 years ago.
His prowess in front of goal almost led to a call-up to the UAE national team for January’s Asian Cup – then Al Wasl duo Caio and Fabio De Lima were also considered but red tape saw plans scuppered.
But that process, the high regard in which he is held at Al Nahyan and his family’s love of the UAE capital means Tagliabue continues to find happiness in Abu Dhabi.
“Wahda is my second home in football,” added the Buenos Aires native.
“My home is my club in Argentina (Club Atletico Colegiales) but outside of Argentina this is my home in football.
“I always say every year or when I have to renew every two or three years I always have the first words with Wahda. I will not speak with any club before I speak with Al Wahda because I feel very good here.
“Of course we have bad and good moments, sometimes I wanted to leave because not everything is perfect, and I know sometimes the club wanted to change me, because this is football. But when I look back and see ‘wow, seven years’, we are champions five times.
“We cannot take the league but this year, maybe, we will fight for that. I was two times top scorer and two times best foreign player, and now the best foreign scorer in the league, I almost played for the UAE national team. This seven years at this club has been really amazing for me.”
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