A day with Emirati scout Omar Yabroudi

Martyn Thomas 12:21 21/05/2015
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  • Omar Yabroudi turned down a move to 1860 Munich in order to work with Edgar Davids.

    In 2012, Omar Yabroudi was on the verge of starting a new life in Germany when he took a phone call from Dutch legend Edgar Davids. 

    The pair had met while Omar was a youth team analyst at Crystal Palace and Davids was able to convince the Emirati to turn his back on becoming 1860 Munich’s first-ever international scout, to move to the less salubrious surrounds of Barnet and England’s League Two.

    Barnet slipped out of the Football League the following summer, while Davids left in January, 2014. However, Yabroudi, who had left Dubai as a teenager, remained as performance analyst and head of recruitment.

    This season he helped the club return to the Football League as Conference Premier champions, with current Bees boss Martin Allen speaking glowingly of the 25-year-old’s contribution to the success.

    As he enjoyed a well-earned end-of-season break, Sport360 caught up with Yabroudi. Interview by Martyn Thomas.

    How does it feel to have secured promotion back to the Football League?

    Words can’t explain the feeling after the final whistle went. The first couple of days it didn’t really sink in, the feeling that we have actually got promoted. Only one team gets automatically promoted from that league, so it’s a tough one. I’m ecstatic, it’s such a good feeling to know that your hard work is being rewarded.

    Was promotion the aim from the beginning of the season?

    We knew what we wanted to do. Now, in order to do that sometimes it takes time, it’s a project. Once Barnet got relegated (from League Two in 2013), the upheaval in terms of staff and players was immediate and it did take some time for it to click. But giving credit where credit is due, Martin Allen came in and he made some key signings. From experience, the key area of success on the pitch is recruitment, it’s the players you have. You can be a good coach but if you don’t have the players, you aren’t going to go anywhere. It’s very simple. And the recruitment was great. 

    What are your day-to-day duties at Barnet?

    My primary role is performance analysis, which is divided into two sectors. So, the first sector would be post-match analysis. Say we were playing Bristol Rovers, once we had played them I would then dissect certain aspects of the games. We would sit down first thing on Tuesday morning at 8 o’clock, and we would go through this together. Obviously, the manager would make notes and digest some of the stuff that was seen, and translate it onto the training pitch. Then on the Thursday, it would be opposition analysis. So, that’s basically studying our opposition on the coming Saturday. My job would be to identify their strengths and weaknesses, any trends on their goals scored, goals conceded, set pieces.

    Mentor: Yabroudi sights Dutch legend Edgar Davids as a key influencer on his career.

    Do you still keep in touch with Davids?

    Yes, I’m always in touch with Edgar. He’s one of the biggest names in football and more importantly he is the one who opened the door for me to move into the football industry. I am very grateful to him because one thing led to another and I am very lucky to have met someone of his calibre, character and experience. You can always learn from such great individuals.

    Do you see yourself working at a higher level?

    Just like in any line of work an individual always wants to work at the highest level, and that would apply with anybody. I am very ambitious as an individual and that is definitely my aim to work at a much-higher level. But for me, it is all about learning from the grass roots. You have to go through the nitty-gritty stuff at the bottom because that is where you actually grasp a lot of things that you can use at the higher level. Moving from Palace’s youth team to Barnet was the right decision, it was a great learning curve and a great experience, and is something I will always remember.

    Do you ever see yourself returning to work in the UAE?

    Yes, absolutely. I’m an analyst now but I obviously want to move into management. So, even if I was to become a coach or a manager, which is what I am working towards, I will always carry everything that I learn with me. I would always acknowledge the importance of having an analyst, because it’s so important to be able to reflect and act upon your own performance and how to overturn opposition. I do believe that over time I will be back in the UAE and I will prove my worth to the country. Whether it’s in that line or whether it’s being a coach or the manager for the national team, which is my aim, that only God knows and hopefully I will work my way towards that.

    Moving forward: National coach Mahdi Ali has made the UAE competitive.

    Do you think Mahdi Ali has opened the door for Emirati coaches in the UAE?

    Absolutely. I have to say, it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch the UAE play so beautifully and more importantly achieve so much in such a short space of time. Mahdi Ali has done a fantastic job. If you think about it, the country is not even 50 years old so to be able to actually mould a team that makes it to the Olympics to play against the likes of Great Britain that is a sign of great progress. And it is a sign of character and hunger from people from our society. Mahdi Ali is second to none in terms of leading that pathway for other Emiratis like myself to drive through.

    Do you think national team players should be encouraged to move abroad?

    It is absolutely crucial. To be a successful international team you have to have core players in your international squad playing in Europe because of the experience. As a player, you jump a lot of steps in terms of your ability – whether it’s technical, mental or physical, you become better players. So, when you increase playing talent you have higher chances of succeeding. You need to maximise your talent by being nurtured in the right environment. For me, I would like to see further Emiratis like myself – whether it’s staff or players – move to Europe, because it’s going to act as a catalyst. a day with Picture: Andre