Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro is leaving Juventus to play in the United Arab Emirates for Dubai-based club Al Ahli.
The 36-year-old defender, who helped Italy to the 2006 World Cup title and will captain the team at this month's tournament in South Africa, signed a two-year deal with the Dubai club. The director of Al Ahli, Abdul Majid Hussein, told The Associated Press the contract was signed in Italy on Tuesday. "He is a good player and a big name that will help us achieve our objective," Hussein said in a phone interview on Wednesday. He declined to reveal the terms of the deal, but said Cannavaro is expected in Dubai shortly after the World Cup ends. "Our goal is to be No. 1 locally and regionally and Cannavaro is the type of a player who will help UAE football become better," Hussein said.
Al Ahli won the domestic league title last season but struggled in the Asian Champions League, winning only two games and failing to qualify for the knockout stage.
"The contract with Fabio Cannavaro is one of the major deals for us because of the player's experience and talent, and also because he has the character of leader, and he led his team to win the World Cup in Germany in 2006," Al Ahli board chairman Abdullah al-Naboodah said in a statement posted on the team's website on Wednesday.
The website also quoted Cannavaro as saying he was happy with the signing for the coming seasons since "he was already thinking about moving to live in Dubai which he loves."
Cannavaro, who is playing in his fourth World Cup and has a record 132 caps for Italy, has also played for Real Madrid and Inter Milan during his storied career.
He had already announced plans to retire from international football after the World Cup and was looking for a new club after Juventus said it would not exercise an extension on his contract.