Ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has been appointed the head coach for Qatari champions Al-Sadd for whom the Spaniard has been playing since 2015, the club said on Tuesday.
Al-Sadd, who won Qatar’s league title this season for the first time in six years, said the team is set to hold a training camp in Girona, near Barcelona, from July 14 to 29.
“After finishing my unforgettable career as a player, I am starting this new challenge with lots of enthusiasm and conscious of the responsibility to return the trust the club has given me,” Xavi wrote on his Instagram page.
Xavi, 39, replaces Portuguese Jesualdo Ferreira whose term ended this season and previously said his successor “will be a great manager”.
The first game for Al-Sadd under Xavi will be against compatriots Al-Duhail in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League on August 6.
Al-Sadd’s last encounter against Al-Duhail saw them thrashed 4-1, after which Xavi dodged the waiting media at the newly inaugurated Al-Janoub World Cup stadium.
Xavi played his final match in an Al-Sadd jersey when the side took on Iranian giants Persepolis in their last group match of the AFC Champions League, succumbing to the hosts 2-0.
He was cheered by fans at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran where several home fans brandished banners reading “Adios Xavi” to show their appreciation of the player.
Along with Andres Iniesta, Xavi formed the backbone of one of Barcelona’s greatest ever sides and became the first player in history to play 150 UEFA Champions League matches.
“The idea is to start as a coach in Qatar, where there is less pressure, to test myself and get some experience,” Xavi told Spain’s Efe agency in Tehran just hours before facing Persepolis.
Xavi joined Al-Sadd in 2015 following an illustrious 17-year stint with Barcelona. At the end of last season, he renewed his contract for two years but at the end of this season, he announced his plans to retire from playing to begin a coaching career.