Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea was at the launch of this year’s Under 13 Dubai Intercontinental Cup, which will be hosted at Dubai Sports City.

De Gea was joined at the launch by his compatriot and Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado, now an ambassador for Spanish Soccer Schools, as well as His Excellency Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council.

The competition is organised by the Dubai Sports Council and will include 24 teams such as European heavyweights Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and Hareb believes this tournament will benefit the four UAE clubs competing.

“The U13 Dubai Intercontinental Cup is a really important tournament for us at Dubai Sports Council because it is part of our initiatives to improve grassroots football in the country,” he said.

“There are four UAE club teams – Al Nasr, Al Wasl, Shabab Al Ahli and Al Wahda – taking part as well, and this tournament will be an invaluable experience and opportunity for not just the Emirati players from these teams, but even the technical staff accompanying them.”

All of the UAE clubs will be facing a top European side during the group stages of the competition, with Al Wahda facing Barcelona in Group B, while Group C contenders Real Madrid will play Al Wasl.

The group stage and round of 16 matches will be played across two days on February 13 and 14, before the competition’s latter stages will commence the following day on February 15.

This is the fourth edition of the competition and Salgado, who won two Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, is adamant future stars of football will be playing in this year’s tournament.

“Every year we are improving our competition and making things even bigger and better.

“Not only do we have around 400 young talents participating from twelve different countries, we are also exposing our players to really good quality competition.”

Under 13 Dubai Intercontinental Cup launch

During the first Under 13 Dubai Intercontinental Cup in 2017 there were only 12 teams and Iñaki Beni, Football Academy Manager at the Spanish Soccer School is in total agreement with Salgado.

“This is a huge opportunity for Dubai to host the best football players at the age of 13 for the fourth time.

“This age is key in their football development and will expose our local talents to the best challenges they could face.”

Dubai TV will be broadcasting the tournament, but if you are attending there will be plenty of entertainment on and off the pitch.

The Fan Zone will include live entertainment, a variety of food and beverage options, and fun interactive activities throughout the three-day tournament.