Aug 8, 2005
KHOUZESTAN – Iran international defender Hossein Kaebi has that Al Sadd coach Bora Milutinovic has had a positive impact on his approach to training during his stint at the 2005 AFC Champions League quarter-finalists.
"Bora is a great coach and I learnt a lot from him in those eight months," said the diminutive 19-year-old, who recently left the Doha outfit to return to recently crowned champions Foolad.
"I am taking training seriously now. Before, I hardly used to train or if I did, I never took it that seriously.
"Bora told me that a person who trains hard is always successful and because of this my training has improved and I am a better player."
Kaebi leaves Al Sadd with a 2005 Emir’s Cup winners’ medal and played five times in their victorious AFC Champions League Group C campaign, which set-up a clash with Korea Republic’s Busan I’Park for a place in the semi-finals.
Despite the opportunity to play his part in Al Sadd’s mission to bring continental glory to Qatar for only the second time since they won the 1989 Asian Club Championship Kaebi felt it better to return to Iran; a decision made after consultation with Milutinovic.
"Al Sadd is a good team but this round will be much harder than the previous one. The teams here are very strong but they definitely deserve to be ranked as one of the top eight teams in Asia.
"However, I discussed my future with Bora and he actually said I should return to Iran because my (national) team is going to the World Cup and I would have more of a chance of getting European offers."
Even before deciding to leave Qatar and go back to Iran, speculation was rife about Kaabi's future, having been linked with English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and reigning AFC Champions League champions Al Ittihad.
For the last two months a firm offer of trials with English Premier League club Aston Villa has been on the table. But Kaabi, who as a 17-year-old had a 3-week trial with
"I have said that I will not go anywhere for trials. I want to sign a contract straight away. "My country has qualified for the World Cup and there is no difference (in quality) between us and European players.
"We Iranians don't appreciate our own worth. I shouldn't have to have trials."
Despite the teenager already having more than 40 international caps to his name, his future is not entirely in his own hands, with the small matter of a one-year contract to honour with Foulad.
"They have told me that I cannot leave until I am a free agent so I am waiting for my contract to finish."