Al Sadd Sports Club has announced the arrival of FC Barcelona Captain Xavi Hernández in Qatar last night.
Hernández arrived at Hamad International Airport (HIA) with his wife, Núria Cunillera. The General Secretary of Al Sadd Sports Club, Jassim Al Romaihi, welcomed Hernández, wrapping a Al Sadd scarf around his neck. Members of the media as well as FC Barcelona fans surrounded Hernández at his arrival.
The 35-year-old Barcelona midfielder and captain Hernández has left FC Barcelona to join Qatar’s Al Sadd Sports Club, ending his 17-year association with FC Barcelona. Hernández joined Barca’s academy in 1991 aged 11 and has won 23 trophies with the team. Recently, Hernández achieved his eighth league title, and won two more trophies in the King’s Cup (Copa Del Rey) final against Athletic Bilbao and the Champions League showpiece versus Juventus.
Hernández made his debut in the league on 3 October 1998 at Mestalla in a 3-1 win over Valencia. That season, Hernández played 17 games for the first team, winning his first league title in the process. Now, at 35, Hernández has eight league titles to his name. This season, Hernández has played 30 games in the league, 18 in the starting eleven, scoring twice. With him on the field, Barça have won 25 games, drawn 2 and lost 3.
According to Hernández, Barca had offered to extend his contract by two years to 2018 but he had decided to move on as he no longer commands an automatic place in the first team. He almost left at the end of last season after Barcelona failed to win a major trophy for the first time in six years but new coach Luis Enrique persuaded him to stay. Al Sadd Sports Club offered Hernández a two-year contract with an option for a further year.
Based in the Al Sadd district, Al Sadd Sports Club is best known for its association football team, which competes in the top level of Qatari football, the Qatar Stars League. The club has participation in handball, basketball, volleyball, table tennis and athletics. Founded on 21 October 1969, Al Sadd Sports Club is the most successful club in the country, and holds a national record of 50 football championships. In the 1989 season, they became the first Arab club side to triumph in the Asian Club Championship by defeating Al Rasheed of Iraq on an aggregate of away goals. Twenty-three years later, Al Sadd Sports Club were once again victorious in the top regional competition, now known as the Asian Champions League, earning a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup. They finished third, becoming the first West Asian side to claim third place in the competition.