'Happy' Sneijder unveiled as Al Gharafa player

AFP , Monday 8 Jan 2018

Wesley Sneijder gives a press conference in Doha as he was officially unveiled by Al Gharafa AFP

A beaming Wesley Sneijder said he had turned down offers "from everywhere" to play in Qatar as the Dutch star was officially unveiled by Al Gharafa in Doha on Monday.

The former Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan star said he was "happy" to be in the Middle East and could not wait to play football again after a disappointing few months at French Ligue 1 side Nice.

The 33-year-old has signed an 18-month contract with the mid-table Qatari side and could make his debut as early as Friday.

"To be honest, my choice to come here was to play football," Sneijder told reporters at a press conference in Doha's Four Seasons hotel.

"There was speculation about me going to the US, about going to China or others, but I never read about 'he will go to Qatar'."

Officials close to the Dutch star said he had also received offers from club in Mexico and Brazil.

He added: "Of course, there were more offers and they came from everywhere."

"I feel very welcome here and I am happy that I chose Al Gharafa.

"To be honest, I can't wait to start training tomorrow and to help the team."

He said he had not spoken to Xavi Hernandez, the former Barcelona legend who plays in Qatar for Al Sadd, but was persuaded to move by Dutch Moroccan midfielder Anouar Diba, who plays for rivals Al Kharaitiyat.

Sneijder said he had no concerns about playing in Qatar, which has received criticism, especially over its human rights record, since being selected to host the 2022 World Cup finals.

Al Gharafa officials revealed they had previously tried to sign Holland's most capped player, with 133 appearances, back in 2014.

Other international stars to play for the seven-time Qatari league champions include Marcel Desailly.

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