City tonight became the first team to hold an official training session on the newly-created, international standard football pitch at Emirates Palace – the UAE capital’s most globally recognised landmark.
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak dropped by to watch the work out alongside more than 100 Blues fans.
They saw a mixture of senior and young players put through their paces including Robinho who will fly off to see the Brazil team doctor tomorrow before coming back to work on his rehab with the Blues medical and physio team.
The pristine pitch, within the grounds of the impressive luxury hotel, is the Blues official training headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
Mark Hughes and his squad are using the new facilities during the international breaks.
Equipped with a complete lighting system, the pitch can accommodate evening training sessions with grass-covered knolls from which the fans can watch the action.
“When we looked at this site in July, we stood alongside tractors and mounds of dirt, but we have become familiar with how quickly and professionally things are accomplished in Abu Dhabi, so we were not surprised to return this week to see it finished to such a high standard,” declared boss Mark Hughes.
The facility got the thumbs up from the players too with Stephen Ireland and Sylvinho leading the chorus of approval.
It is great to be back in Abu Dhabi, particularly training at such an amazing location
“It’s a privilege to be among the first players training on this pitch, and we are looking forward to the match in front of the football fans of Abu Dhabi on Thursday.”
“It is a great facility and coupled with the gym and the other amenities at the Emirates Palace makes for an amazing place to train,” reckoned Brazil international Sylvinho who spent two hours in the afternoon coaching local children at an Etihad arranged event within the hotel grounds.
Also an interested spectator was club Ambassador Mike Summerbee. The former England international has been a frequent visitor to the Emirates for more than 30 years.
“It is a fabulous place to come and the local people are incredibly passionate and knowledgable about their football,” he enthused.
“I remember playing an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in car park but things have moved on dramatically since then.
Looking at its splendour tonight made me want to pull the boots back on but I think if I did that I might pull a few other things…mainly muscles!
“The Emirates Palace has provided a magnificent new facility for City and everyone at the club appreciates the work that has gone into it.
“I am sure the lads really appreciate being here and we have been given the warmest possible welcome by the people of Abu Dhabi.”