The former Blue Tigers head coach spoke about working in Indian football and his plans going forward.
Stephen Constantine’s autobiography refers to him as the world’s most-travelled coach. The 57-year-old has had stints in Nepal, England, Malawi in East Africa, Sudan, multiple spells in Cyprus, Greece and Rwanda, along with having spent almost seven years in India. Ever since he started his managerial career, Constantine has hardly ever taken a break from the sport. Hence, it is rather intriguing to find him still on the lookout for a new job, after having stepped down as the head coach of the Indian national football team in 2019.
“I and my wife celebrated our 25th anniversary last year. Someone asked her the secret for it and she said that it happened because he’s always away,” said the immensely seasoned coach in the latest episode of Khel Now’s “Beyond The Scores” podcast. Addressing what lies next for Stephen Constantine, he remarked, “I have had 1-2 offers from India. To be honest, after leaving the national team job, I did not want to come directly back to India; maybe six months or a year later. I needed a break.”
Considering that he has managed a considerable number of clubs and national teams, the tactician was probed about which of the two he would prefer to coach next. “I would like a club,” he replied. The former Sudan manager stated, “Last week, I was offered Guinea, which is in West Africa. So, I don’t really have a look, but my preference would be a club team. But, if there was a good national team, I don’t say that Guinea was not good, I don’t know if that would have been for me.”
“I don’t want to go to be a coach in a team that has no aspirations, that doesn’t give me any good. Still I have plenty of years in my career. So, I don’t just want to be there to take money and not have an opportunity to be successful,” he mentioned. Last month, Constantine had stated his desire to coach an Indian Super League outfit in the future. Probed about the same, he replied, “As I said before, if it is the right situation, I am open. I can’t comment on a particular club ,as it would be unfair. But, I am open to coming back to India. I think I can do a lot of things for a club on and off the field. It’s up to one of those teams to decide if they can work with me.”
Constantine believes that it is important to have a specific project, a roadmap of sorts before taking on a responsibility at any club. He stated that after joining a team midway through the season, the first priority is to put out the fire. But, ideally, he affirmed that it is important to be able to see the start, the middle and the end of the tenure. “Many of my jobs have been to fix fires, come and save us situation. In India though, it was about to come and re-build,” he quipped.
“I have had three approaches, two from the ISL and one from I-League,” the coach revealed, when quizzed regarding the offers that he has received after leaving the helm of the Blue Tigers.
Earlier in the conversation, the Englishman had somewhat regretfully mentioned that the feats that the Indian national team achieved in his tenure weren’t really acknowledged by many people. “I don’t think people fully appreciate what we did in India. To be honest, most people don’t care what we do in India from a footballing perspective.”
He continued, “The fact that we were 176 (in FIFA rankings) and we went to 96 (97, actually), we qualified for the Asian Cup. We took the youngest team in Indian history to a major final, the second youngest team of the tournament. We absolutely destroyed Thailand (in AFC Asian Cup 2019) and I don’t know how we didn’t qualify. Then you have people like Carlos Queiroz, who was interviewed in UAE about Iran and he started talking about India. I think that’s a massive compliment to me, the players and Indian football.”
“Look, there are a lot of good people who are not working at the moment. Of course, I feel if I was given an opportunity in England I would do a good job. I feel if you give me an opportunity in any league I will do a good job. I am not stupid enough to know that it is only going to me, so I will get the best people around me and do the best job I possibly can,” Stephen Constantine asserted.