MALKY TURNS THE OTHER SHEIKH; SCOT WHO IS MAKING HIS MARK IN MIDDLE EAST: United's Arab Emigrates to UnitedArab Emirates

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Byline: EUAN McARTHUR

SCOTS coach Malky Thomson reckons he has one of the best jobs in football in the United Arab Emirates.

And he's loving life in the cash-rich Middle East so much he might never come home.

The ex-Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Dundee United assistant coach waved goodbye to Birmingham City to join David O'Leary's Al Ahli outfit where he finds himself coaching stars such as Fabio Cannavaro.

Thomson, whose playing career started off with Sir Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen, has been well travelled through the years and jumped at the chance of a move into the unknown when he joined the Dubai-based outfit. He said: "It's been unbelievable so far. The whole experience has been absolutely breathtaking ever since I stepped off the plane to meet my new employers.

Wrench "You can never say never in football because it's just full of surprises but my feeling right now is I never want to leave the place. It's been that good.

"It's a fantastic set-up from top to bottom and a real eye-opener the way football is taking off in this part of the world.

"When a club has the big plans for the future we have, it makes you want to do well for them and turn the dream into reality.

"I've been at a variety of clubs - Aberdeen, Hibs, Celtic, Dundee United, Inverness Caley Thistle and Birmingham - over the years and I've enjoyed every minute, good and bad.

"But, to be honest, you never quite think that one day you'll head so far away from home for something out of the ordinary.

So when the chance came up it was something I couldn't turn down. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Of course, it was a wrench to leave Birmingham because big Alex McLeish was brilliant with me throughout my time there and I had a steady job as his reserve team manager.

"However, even Eck said it was a great chance and if someone of his standing says that you know it's not be missed.

"I still keep a check on how Birmingham are doing as well as all the latest events in Scottish football. But right now it just seems a million miles away from what I'm doing over here."

The 42-year-old knows he's lucky to be in an environment where cash is being pumped into clubs rather than being clawed back. But the Paisely-born coach insists he took the plunge for his own long-term development rather than financial reasons.

Thomson said: "There's clearly more money out here than in other parts of the world - like Scotland and England - where football has had to make drastic cuts across the board.

"That helps if you're looking to bring in top players or attract the up-and-coming stars and, to be fair, they're putting money into facilities to make them top notch. …