October 27, 2013
Applauded enthusiastically by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Brazilian captain Dudu raises the Fifa World Youth cup at the capital’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The date was December 19, 2003, but after Brazil’s performance against the UAE this week, who would bet against them lifting another trophy in the same stadium this month?
The UAE have now hosted both the Youth World Championship and the current Under 17 World Cup.
Back in 2003, the home country lost their opening game to Slovakia 4-0, but rallied to defeat Panama before progressing to the next round after drawing with Bukina Faso.
In one of the tournament shocks, the UAE then defeated Australia to reach the quarterfinals – even though the Socceroos had already beaten Brazil.
Al Abyad eventually lost narrowly to Columbia, who went on to finish third.
However the current tournament ends, the young UAE players might remember the words of the great American sports writer and poet Grantland Rice, over 100 years ago.
“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes – not that you won or lost –but how you played the Game.”
* James Langton