The Indian Super League is heating up well with the transfer season coming off well for most of the teams, including ATK.
Carl Baker is the latest foreign signing for Indian Super League defending champions ATK, with Teddy Sheringham bringing in a British Player with loads of experience under his belt. Baker has played for the likes of Portsmouth and MK Dons in his career but found most of his success at Coventry City where he played 160 games in his four-year reign at the club.
Baker is an exciting winger who can also play in the middle as well and the call from somebody like Sheringham was irresistible for him. Despite being in his mid-30s, Baker has not been showing any signs of slowing down as he helped MK Dons get promotion to the Football League Championship in 2015 and was quite influential for Portsmouth last year as well. He was tipped to move from Portsmouth to old club Coventry this season until ATK came calling and Baker embarked on a new journey to the other side of the world. Baker shared the creative and goal scoring duties with current Tottenham sensation, Dele Alli.
ATK have had their share of brilliant wingers in the past, including Javi Lara and Sameehg Doutie who aren’t going to be part of them this season, as Baker will need to step up and fill their void this season. The 34-year-old recently spoke to Coventry Telegraph about his desire to play in the ISL and what helped him take the big jump to play in India. He was asked about how the move to ATK came into fruition to which he gave a very honest answer and said: “It was pretty random, to be honest. I was playing golf in Southampton and I got a phone call from a number I didn’t know and it was Teddy Sheringham.
“I thought one of the lads was having a bit of banter and winding me up, so for the first couple of minutes I wasn’t sure if it was a wind-up.”
He continued: “He knew I might be leaving Portsmouth and that I might be available, said he was managing over in India and was interested in taking me over there.
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“I said to him that it was a random call and that I didn’t really know much about the Indian Super League so I said I wanted to look into it. I didn’t want to turn it down straight away so I went home and did a bit of research and had a chat with my misses and had a think about it.
“He called me back a few days later and we spoke four or five times before I actually decided that it was going to be a great opportunity for me. At my time of life, it’s exactly what I need.”
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He indicated that Teddy Sheringham had a big say in his move as he said: “It’s a new challenge and it excites me and everything that he was saying sounded promising, so I eventually decided to go for it.”
The move to the ISL has many questioning whether Baker’s only doing it for the money and while he doesn’t deny that, Baker states of his excitement at playing in a new environment as he said: “Financially it’s a no brainer.”
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“People have said I’m going over there for the money but that’s just a part of it. Obviously, I can earn good money over there compared to staying here in England and that was a big factor in my decision. But, for me, the money is not the be all and end all because I want to go out and experience different cultures and test myself in a different country and see what it’s like.
“It excites me, going out to play in front of 80,000 fans. They had to move out of the stadium last year because it was being used for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup but they are back there this year and it’s got an 80,000 capacity.
He further added: “Teddy said they averaged 45/50,000 last season and it was a policing thing that stopped the attendances going higher, but they have applied to allow 80,000 this season, so to play in front of that many people is something that’s very exciting.”
Baker will be reunited with his Coventry City team-mate Conor Thomas whom ATK signed earlier on as well as Liverpool legend Robbie Keane, whom he admitted being a fan of. He spoke about how he feels on linking with these two and said: “I don’t know Robbie, never played with or against him but watched him a few times as a fan when he played for Liverpool,”
“To play with players like that and the fact that Dimitar Berbatov has gone out there to Kerala Blasters and Luis Garcia was at ATK and Helder Postiga there last year, and to see who has been over there in the last few years and they are huge names in world football.
“And it could be a good time for me to go over there.”
As for Thomas, who left Swindon Town to join the defending ISL Champions, Baker said: “I had a chat to Conor a few times and he gave me some information about it and was really helpful because he signed before me.
“I guess I’ll be plane-sharing with him.
“It helps that I know someone out there and we’re both in the same boat. I will be staying in a hotel while we’re out there so I presume we’ll be in the same one, which will be nice.” he signed off with. Baker will hope to link well with Thomas and the others and will be pivotal to Sheringham’s squad this season.