Exclusive: I still want to play for India - Michael Chopra
The forward spoke exclusive to Khel Now’s Ravish Narvekar in the midst of the ISL frenzy..
“I still have those ambitions. I have had them since I was 2 years old and I’ll continue to pursue that dream,” said the Englishman speaking about his ambitions of playing for the Indian national team. Born and raised in England, Chopra is eligible to play for the Blue Tigers through his father.
“You get used to the weather and it’s odd for players who have never played here before because it’s so humid and so hot. Well the quicker you get used to it the better you’ll be for the team. But, I love it which is why I wanted to come back,” The 32-year-old striker elaborated on his experience of playing in India.
Chopra likes to prove people wrong, especially those who doubted him and this was the major reason why he chose to come back to the ISL after a disappointing first season in 2014, where he failed to score a single goal.
“I’ve done it all my life. I’ve done it in the Premier League when I played for Newcastle United. People doubted me. I left Newcastle and dropped down a division and then a year later I was back playing in the Premiership. Today is no different. Just because I’m older doesn’t mean that things have changed in my mind and that’s one of the main reasons,” said the striker who has represented the Three Lions at various age groups.
Kerala Blasters overcame FC Goa as they came from a goal down to beat the hosts 1-2 in the last match played at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Fatorda Goa. Though they registered a comeback victory in the last match, scoring goals has been a big problem for the team this season. They have just managed to score four goals in their six matches despite playing a very attacking line-up. But, Chopra believes that just playing attacking football in not enough to score goals.
“I think it was just more of chances created really. Obviously we created chances but we didn’t create chances in the right areas of the pitch. We didn’t really get many balls into the box or shots from outside the box. Whereas, if you look at our game now, we’ve come on so much as a team. We’re playing well at the minute and we’re creating a lot of chances in the right areas. I think that is the only difference between now and the first three games,” he added.
After grabbing full points in the last match Blasters have risen to 5th position in the league table, one below the play-off spots. Chopra is very confident about his side making it into top four at the end of the league phase.
“We’ve only played six games so far. Of course we can make the play-offs. I’ve just looked at the first season when I played. The first few games we didn’t pick up as many points as what we did and we have carried it on. This time is no different obviously, we were defeated in 3 games, then we got a draw and everyone was happy. We are looking forward to going into games now because we know that more often than not we are going to have more possession of the ball. It is just about creating chances and you can see the enjoyment on the players’ faces in the last few games where we did enjoy how we played and It was a start for all of us.”
Chopra believes that in ISL 3 the quality of football is much better. “I think more teams have started to realize that instead of splashing out a lot of money on foreigners like they did in the first season, more teams are looking for younger generations in foreigners I think that’s helped Indian football a lot.”
He also believes that at this moment of time playing more foreigners will be good for Indian football. However, he also mentioned that it should be changed when the quality of Indian football improves.
Chopra has played for both Newcastle United and Sunderland who are fierce rivals in the English football. So when asked about how difficult or easy it was to switch between the two teams he said, “At the end of the day you’ve got to think about your career and that you’re a footballer. Yes, I’m a football fan and I support Newcastle. But I had to do what was best for my career at that time in my life. Playing Premiership football was an opportunity for me and an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. People have regrets in life but I have no regrets. Everything I’ve done in life, I’ll probably do the same today. In terms of football I loved it and one of the reasons I went to Sunderland was to play in the Premiership and to work alongside one of the management there. Who was a Manchester United legend and to work with him and to learn from him football. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.”
He is confident that Newcastle can bounce back into the Premier League next season and that Rafa Benitez is the the right man for them. Although, he was hard for him to pick a probable winner of the Premier League this season.
“I think if you look at Manchester City with Pep Guardiola and Manchester United with Jose Mourinho they are probably the ones who will be fighting it out for the title. Obviously Arsenal have spent a lot of money, they will be up there. Then also Liverpool will be up there as well,” he signed off.
Photo © ISL Media
Interview by Khel Now Correspondent Ravish Narvekar from Goa . A true Football enthusiast & a die hard Liverpool fan. Ravish also enjoys travelling & he's an avid foodie.
Published: Sat Nov 19, 2016 01:46 AM IST