The Ivory Coast man said Indian players are keen to learn and improve…
NorthEast United FC marquee Didier Zokora has been an integral part of the Highlanders outfit this season. The Ivory Coast man spoke exclusively to Khel Now on his experience in Indian football. “Indian players have exceptional talent. They are keen learners, I am really happy to be a part of this developmental phase of Indian football,” the former Ivory Coast international and Premier league star said.
On being asked, why he choose to switch to NEUFC from Pune City, he had some fine words to share. “When I came to India, to Pune, I don’t know the ISL. I only heard of the league. Players like David Trezequet played in the ISL for Pune, I played there, it was a good team with good players like Adrian Mutu, Kalu Uche. If I compare my current team with Pune, I find that NorthEast have good players and great people, I love playing here. I came here only to play football, not for money, not to be a leader. The passion for football here is remarkable. No matter if we are not able to win this season, may be next, but the 24 players in this group are a family. The love for football here is terrific, I appreciate it.”
Zokora was not in the starting eleven for NEUFC due to injury concerns in the first couple of matches. But the injury to Mailson Alves allowed him in and he has been a constant since. “I was not able to start with the team for the first few games due to injury, but the team did well and the past is the past. My team is looking forward to the next game.”
About the quality of the league and the composition of the foreign and the domestic players he said, “The league is improving. The results in most of the matches like 1-0, 2-1, and 0-0 proves that no team is giving up and in the coming years I hope it will reach a high level. I don’t want to talk about the balance in the team, but young Indian footballers I found are really quality players. To name a few in the squad like Jerry, Zuala, Fanai have great talent and in the future may be you can see more domestic players in every team”
On the coach Nelo Vingada, NEUFC skipper has to comment some words, “People say him the Professor, he is like a dad, a gurdient, never hesitated to guide and ask for our experiences also in need”
The former Tottenham Hotspur star said he’s positive about his former team’s fortunes this season. “I was with them when I was quite young, English football is so different with from leagues. They played well last season. This season also they are playing well. I hope they can do well. But now my team is NorthEast and I am focusing on them,” Zokora said.
Accompanying him was Nirmal Chettri. The India international who lost his place recently in the national squad said that he is working hard to improve and hopes to be in the team again. On being asked about his football academy back home he said, “I am working with the talented kids in my native place and hope that they will bring glory to the country by playing football.”
On the experience of sharing the dressing room with players like Zokora, the NEUFC defender said, “Zokora is a great player, but he’s an even better person. He’s always keen to help and teach,” he concluded.
Photo © ISL Media
Interview by Himangshu Rajkhowa- Khel Now Correspondent from Guwahati.