Indian Super League team FC Pune City last week announced former Chelsea and Barcelona star Eidur Gudjohnsen as its marquee player for the 2016 edition of the league. The 37-year-old was part of the Chelsea side that won the Premier League twice in a row in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and also won La Liga and Champions League with Barcelona in 2008-09.
In an interview to News18.com over phone, the much-travelled midfielder reveals how excited he is to take part in ISL and desire to take up fresh challenges.
Question How excited are you about playing in Indian Super League?
Answer: The potential is big because of the size of the country and the ambitions that the organisers have. People in India want to see football grow, we are now into the third season and from what I understand, the league will be expanding from the next season so hopefully I am being a part of growth in Indian football.
Question Why did you agree to join ISL? What's the main reason behind it?
Answer: The main thing was that the club contacted me, the people of Pune City — the president, the coach. I spoke with them. They explained the situation of the club and how they wanted to take the team forward. It just seemed very interesting for me to come over and play. It gave me a positive feeling and that’s how things developed.
Question You have played in EPL with Chelsea - what steps should officials take in making ISL a household name like EPL in future?
Answer: In order to grown in any league or any competition, you have to look at the base a plan for the future, a long term. It means investing in youth system and set a good example for them. So when they start playing at a young age, they have people to look up to.
Question You have played in the best league in the world in past and now you have joined a new venture in India -- how much the new challenge excites you?
Answer: It’s something completely new. I can still perform at the highest level. My aim is to help FC Pune City higher than last few seasons. We are working now to have a good balance in the team to be competitive, to respect the club we are playing with and respect the fans and tell them that we want to go as far as we can. Our coach has set a standard of going in to every game with a desire to win. Obviously we need to everything to be in place, to be successful at least to show progress and after the season we can look back and say we had a good season.
Question What bar is the Pune City FC team trying to set and what are you guys aiming for the upcoming season?
Answer: I think to be part of a successful team, to give everything I can to help everyone on and off the field and to leave behind a good image of myself. We are all working in the same direction hopefully to arrive as far as we deserve to arrive.
Question How would you place India football and what are the improvements you will like to see in the Indian players?
Answer: Like I said, I have just met the team in Spain. The players are really hard working and have everything in them to become top class. Probably the more I see is when I’ll get a better view on them.
Question Having played for Chelsea before -- so you think Chelsea will be back in top four this season under Conte?
Answer: Yes, they can. Conte is a very good manager and has good squad of players. The premier league is as competitive right now as ever. But its certainly Chelsea has the capacity to get back in top 4.