The tennis story of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi

The tennis story of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi

Nasser Al-Khelaifi was known in the last days as the man who signed Lionel Messi for Paris Saint-Germain. The 47-year-old Qatari is not only in charge of running the French club but also had a time when he knew how to be a tennis player.

The 70’s were, for Qatar, one of the most important of his (young) life. In 1971 the country ceased to be dependent on Great Britain and declared its independence. In this new social context, Nasser bin Ghanim Al-Khelaifi was born. His fortune, now incalculable, was not such in that new Arab nation. His father earned his living as a pearl fisherman.

Since I was a child Al-Khelaifi He did not show the same talent as his father (almost extinct today due to the exploitation of oil on Qatari soil) and changed fishing for racket. At the age of six he began to play tennis and displayed skills worthy of being taken into account. But there were two problems.

Qatar had no tennis history and to be able to transcend in the sport you had to belong to the royal family. His practice seemed to remain only a hobby, until the appearance of Tamim ben Hamad Al-Zani. While this new character also played tennis, what differentiated him from our protagonist was his lineage: he was the crown prince to the throne of Qatar.

At just 14 years old (Zani was 8) he began to build a relationship based on tennis that ended up catapulting him to his present day. During the 90 ‘the current president of PSG played two professional ATP tournaments (Saint Polten, lost to the Top 10 Thomas Muster and Doha with the same result against Oleg Ogorodov) and his best ranking was 995 °.

Although its significance outside the Qatari borders was not of importance, within the country it was number one. Under the Qatari flag he played the Davis Cup for 10 years with a balance of 71 matches played between singles and doubles. It could never be beyond Group II.

2003 marked the close of his professional career with the racket. Qatar’s F2, held in Doha, was the end point for his decade of tennis and the beginning of the era of business. Graduated from a degree in Economics at the University of Qatar and with a close relationship with the royal family of the country, he joined the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

Five years after his retirement he was elected as president of the Qatar Tennis Federation (which presides to this day) and he is also the vice president of the Asian Federation. For 2011 his life would take an impressive turn.

His friend Al-Thani (current Emir of Qatar) entrusted him with the QIA and Al-Khelaifi bought 70% of the Paris Saint-Germain equity fund. From there, French football would not be the same. The PSG revolution attracted the best players in the world and won countless titles. Now, the former tennis player who seduced Messi will go for the icing on the cake: the Champions League.

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