DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said Monday that his surprise move to United Arab Emirates club Al Nasr to become its technical director wasn't about the money but his "love of football."
Speaking after being presented by the Dubai club Monday, Eriksson said he had several other offers including one from German second-division club 1860 Munich. But after meeting Al Nasr officials and touring its facilities, Eriksson said he liked the fact the club had a "long term vision" and was looking forward to his role in developing football for the club and winning more trophies under his 18-month contract. No further details were provided about the contract.
"It's not for money, absolutely not," Eriksson told reporters. "I don't complain about my salary. I'm happy with it. It's for the love of football and seeing new parts of the world and a new football league."
Eriksson's long career includes a five-year stint as England coach. The 64-year-old Swede has also managed, among others, Fiorentina, Roma, Lazio, Benfica, Manchester City, Mexico and Ivory Coast. In the past two years, he has become a vagabond of sorts, managing English second-tier side Leicester and last year advising Thai team Tero Sasana for two months.
Al Nasr Vice Chairman Ahmad Khoury said discussions started with Eriksson several weeks back and that he was picked over several other candidates. He said there "are no limits" for the club's ambition under Eriksson, although the priorities in the coming months will be winning the league, the domestic Etisalat Cup and advancing in the Asian Champions League.
"I think we shouldn't forget his experience in managing clubs in Europe and the national team of England," Khoury said. "That has given him a lot of mileage. His CV is full of good professional clubs and that will a lot of experience for Al Nasr. I'm sure he will add a lot of value and be an asset to the club. We are looking for some trophies either this year or next year."
Khoury said part of the goal will be improving the professionalism at Al Nasr, a shortcoming of many clubs in the United Arab Emirates where crowds are sparse and sponsorship almost nonexistent. Many clubs depend on the kindness of their benefactors which in many cases are linked to country's ruling families.
Eriksson said he would also have a role in bringing in fresh talent to the club and offering advice on how the team can improve. But the job of coaching the team, he said, will be left to Italian Walter Zenga, the former Italy goalkeeper whom Eriksson coached during a stint at Sampdoria.
"I went down to the pitch and met with the players, Zenga and his coaching staff," Eriksson said. "I told everyone I'm not there as coach or manager. I'm here as an adviser. He is coaching. This shouldn't put any pressure on him at the moment. That wouldn't be right."
Still, Eriksson said he still has a desire to return to management one day — although he acknowledged that time was running out.
"Coaching. Who knows when the contract finishes?" he said. "I am starting to be of certain age so I don't know if anyone wants me as a coach anymore. I feel younger than I am and I'm in love with football as I have been all my life. That hasn't changed."
Asked whether Al Nasr was a step down considering another former England coach, Fabio Capello, is in charge of Russia, the soft-spoken Eriksson insisted he was just "happy to be involved in football." He added that at least he will be "living in a place warmer than Capello."