7 Famous Football Players Who Have Played in Qatar

wesley sneijder al gharafa

The Qatari Stars League is of the most well-paying leagues in terms of wages in the world. The middle eastern country runs a lucrative league competition that is able to attract the best football stars looking for a last bountiful contract. Critics might disparagingly call the league an elephant graveyard of sorts for football stars, however, the competition within the League is top-notch and of high standards. Today we take a look at some of the best players who are playing or have played in the Qatari League.

1. André Ayew – Al Sadd

The Ghanaian national team captain is following in the footsteps of his father, African legend Abedi Pele who also played in Qatar in the twilight of his career. Andre signed for Qatari Stars League club Al Sadd SC in July of this year on a two-year contract. He will be hoping he can make the same impact as his father back in 1983 when he signed for them.

2. Xavi Hernández – Al Sadd

Xavi Hernández - Al Sadd

Spanish and Barcelona legend Xavi joined Al Sadd in 2019. He played for them a single season before retiring from competitive football. In 82 appearances for the Qatari club, the former Barca midfielder netted 21 times. At the end of the season, the 2010 World Cup winner took up full managerial duties with the same club and has stayed in charge ever since. He guided Al Sadd to the league championship last season.

3. Marcel Desailly – Al-Gharafa

The French legendary defender, towards the end of his career also played for a few years in Qatar. He signed for Al-Gharafa in 2005, with whom he won the Qatari League the same year. In 2006 he moved over to Qatari SC where he helped them finish second in the League.

4. Tobey Alderweireld – Al-Duhail

The Belgian international defender signed for Al-Duhail for $18 million in July of this year. This transfer made the 32-year-old the most expensive signing in the history of the Qatari League. Like Ayew, he is currently one of the top football players playing in Qatar. Many considered this a surprising move for the former Tottenham Hotspur FC man, who many still regard as one of the best center-backs in the modern game. Tobey will be hoping his wealth of experience will help his new club regain the Qatari Stars League championship.

5. Wesley Sneijder – Al-Gharafa

wesley sneijder al gharafa

The former Dutch international joined Al-Gharafa in 2018. The former Netherlands attacking midfielder played 22 times for the Qatari club scoring 15 goals during the campaign. At the end of the season, Wesley retired from competitive football and returned to Holland to take up a coaching position with FC Utrecht.

6. James Rodríguez – Al-Rayyan

James Rodríguez Al-Rayyan

The topscorer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup currently plays his football for Qatar Stars League club Al-Rayyan. On 22 September 2021,  it was reported that James joined Al-Rayyan from Everton for an undisclosed fee. The attacking midfielder shocked many fans with this move.

7. Juninho Pernambucano – Al-Gharafa

Widely regarded as one of the greatest freekick specialists in football, Juninho was a top footballer. The Brazilian player most his career at French club, Lyon. However, when he departed Lyon in 2009, Juninho signed a €2.5 million, two-year contract with Qatari club Al-Gharafa.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Pep Guardiola – Al Ahli SC
  • Gabriel Batistuta – Al-Arabi
  • Raul González – Al Sadd
  • Frank de Boer – Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal SC
  • Javi Martínez – Qatar SC


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