The boy Zayed says goodbye Iran and maybe hello Dubai
The Dublin-born Libya international is ready to continue on his colourful travels, writes EMMET MALONE, Soccer Correspondent
The downturn might have cost Dubai some of its allure for those Irish who liked its year-round sun and second-home potential but as he considers his next move in football, Eamon Zayed reckons the place still has a fair bit going for it.
The hard times here have been particularly tough on all connected with Irish football, and so, while he has had offers from several of the country’s leading clubs, the Dubliner is wary of falling back into a cycle of five-parts playing professionally to one-part signing on.
Having had to spend time on the dole after his deal at Derry City ran out in 2011, he set about exploring opportunities abroad. Famously, he ended up in Tehran, playing in front of crowds of between 10,000 and 100,000, and came to be known as “Mr Hat-Trick”.
His first treble came in the Tehran derby for Persepolis against Esteghlal in only his second game for the club. Coming on as a substitute with his team down to 10 men and losing 2-0, his three-goal salvo secured a dramatic 3-2 victory.
Further trebles followed against Al-Shabab in the AFC Champions League – the first by a Persepolis player in the competition – and against Rah Ahan in the domestic league.
Now he wants to sign for Dubai Sports Club although, as of yesterday, nothing had been tied up and there remains the slight possibility of complications relating to his release, agreed last month, from Persepolis.
“It’s 99 per cent resolved and I’m happy we’ve parted company on good terms because I might end up back there some day but I’m just waiting for the Iranian FA to sign off on the deal,” he explains.
“What’s on the table from Dubai is a six-month contract with an option to extend . . . although they’re the ones with the option so it’s really just a six-month contract.”
He enjoyed Iran, he says, but the sanctions and deteriorating exchange rate changed the economic situation for clubs, and when his wages stopped coming he decided it was time to go. The attraction of a spell in the Emirates is simple: “The standard of living is much higher than in Iran and the weather is better.”
There have also been offers from the United States (San Antonio), Iran and one or two elsewhere. Having had spells previously in the likes of South Korea, Azerbaijan and Libya (for whom he has played at senior international level, having qualified through his father), he’s getting pretty good at weighing up what is put before him.
Sometimes, he points out, matters are complicated by considerations that have nothing to do with money.
“I went to Libya just after the spell at Sporting Fingal (late 2010), which I really hadn’t enjoyed,” he recalls, “and when I heard the deal they were offering, I just thought ‘Wow!’. It was a frightening amount of money after what I had been on back here.