The Scandinavian who had a short but brisk journey with the Southern outfit spoke exclusively to Khel Now about his time in Indian football.
The start of 2018 didn’t give Kerala Blasters enough reasons to enjoy, to smile, but gave them plenty of reasons to feel miserable. From the defeat in the Southern Derby to sacking Rene Meulensteen, and then releasing Mark Sifneos, the circumstances the club had to face were not what the fans and the team would have wanted.
“Heroes are made by the path they choose,” said someone and the hero was the Icelandic attacker, Gudjon Baldvinsson, who came in for the departed Sifneos. The path he had chosen was a difficult one. He was asked to come and play for a club which lies about 10000 kilometres away from where he was, where the climate is the exact opposite of his country, for the club hailing from Gods’ Own Country, Kerala Blasters.
Baldvinsson played six games for the Kerala franchise this term
The Icelandic striker who is now back in his home country and preparing to join his native club, Stjarnan FC spoke exclusively to KhelNow about his decisions to come to India and his experiences in the Indian Super League (ISL). Excerpts:
Q1: The climatic conditions in Iceland and in India are totally different. Who inspired you to join the club?
A: Yes, that’s true, Hermann (Hreidarsson), the assistant coach, contacted me and asked if I would be interested. I was really excited for the challenge and it took me only 1-2 weeks to adapt under the new conditions.
Q2: The stint you had at KBFC was a short one. How was the journey with the club?
A: I loved every minute of it. It was a lot of new things to see for me and all the people around the club, the players and the fans gave me a warm welcome. It was truly a great experience.
Q3: Kerala Blasters has one of the best fan groups in the form of Manjappada. How was your experience with them?
A: They were great. A lot of love for the club and the players. It was one of my top experiences to play in front of them.
Q4: How different are Iceland and India in terms of football?
A: Icelandic football is very physical and most of the teams work very hard and are tactical in the defence. It’s not that different in India. Everyone wants to work hard and play good football.
Q5: How were the Indian players? Do you think they are talented enough to battle in bigger leagues?
A: I was only there for five weeks, so I could not see all the players, but what I saw was very promising. With hard work and dedication, I think that’s a possibility, yes.
Q6: Iceland’s situation, once, was similar to that of India. Now, Iceland have become one of the best in Europe. Do you think that India can follow in the footsteps of Iceland?
A: Yes, I have no doubt about that. You have 1.3 billion people, we have 350 thousand. I think it’s about good facilities for the young kids and well-educated coaches that have to work with the kids. Then in a few years you would see a lot of good players coming through.
Q7: Tell us something about David James?
A: My experience with him was great. He always gives you points to improve and is very enthusiastic about his work. I’m sure he will do great things with this team next season.
Q8: You played alongside Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown. How was the experience?
A: I enjoyed it like I enjoyed every minute of India. They have a lot of experience and you can learn a lot from them.
The Iceland international praiseful of Sandesh Jhingan’s performance in the ISL
Q8: Kerala’s captain, Sandesh Jhingan is one of the vital cogs in the national squad. Do you think he has the potential to go beyond borders and make it big in Europe?
A: He was very good in the six games I played with him. He is still young and if he gets the chance to try it in Europe he should definitely do so.
Q9: Who’s the toughest opponent you’ve ever faced in the ISL?
A: I’m not sure there. We had some tough games and Bengaluru had a very solid defence.
Q10: Will you join Kerala Blasters, if a concrete offer arises in the future?
A: I would love to come back! Yes.
Q12: Your message for the Manjappada-Kerala Blasters fans?
A: I would like to them for the great time I had playing in front of them. it’s the dream of every player to play every week in front of such great fans. Keep up the good work and hope to see you again.