According to theathletic.com, the newly established Saudi Pro League (SPL) has appointed former Chelsea Sporting Director, Michael Emenalo, as its inaugural Director of Football. The SPL has been aggressively attracting top players and renowned coaches from around the globe, thanks to its substantial financial incentives for the key individuals involved.
Emenalo brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having previously held a similar position at Chelsea from 2011 to 2017. During his tenure at the West London club, Emenalo oversaw a highly successful period across the men’s, women’s, and academy teams. He played a pivotal role in the club’s transfer activities, contributing to the recruitment of notable players such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, and N’Golo Kante.
Following his time at Chelsea, Emenalo served as Sporting Director for AS Monaco for two years before engaging in consultancy work. Recognized as one of the best in his field, he will now be responsible for assisting the SPL in developing frameworks and implementing principles observed in the world’s most prominent football leagues.
Emenalo is expected to assemble a team of professionals, leveraging his previous working relationships and networks, to enhance the league’s setup. Additionally, the 57-year-old is anticipated to prioritize the nurturing of young Saudi talent by providing opportunities for them to learn and grow within his team, ultimately advancing their own careers in the industry.
Emenalo’s football journey began with Enyimba in Nigeria, and he later played for Enugu Rangers before moving to the United States, where he attended college and played for Boston University from 1985 to 1988. He then had stints at Molenbeek in Belgium, Eintracht Trier in Germany, and Notts County F.C in England before returning to the US. Emenalo was part of the original allocation of players for Major League Soccer and spent two seasons (1996-97) with the San Jose Clash. He subsequently played for UE Lleida in Spain and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.
During his international career, Emenalo earned 14 caps for Nigeria between 1984 and 1995. He featured in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he played against Argentina and Greece after recovering from an injury that had kept him out of the first match. Nigeria’s journey in the tournament ended when they were eliminated by Italy.
With Emenalo’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, the SPL aims to elevate its profile and become a prominent force in the footballing world.