The 32-year-old started his youth career at Swindon Town, before moving to the Saints.
Over the years, since its inception, the Indian Super League has become a home to some experienced stars who have previously plied their trade in the echelons of European football. From Alessandro Del Piero to Diego Forlan, we Indians have seen some of these stars grace our stadiums. On 21st August 2018, FC Pune City signed a veteran the guise of Matt Mills, who has travelled across the United Kingdom through his career, representing the likes of Manchester City, Southampton and Leicester City.
In an exclusive interview with Khel Now, the 32-year old spoke about his footballing career. He also shared his views on how football is growing in India and how he is adapting to life at his new club.
The defender started off the conversation by saying, “As a kid, you always go for the enjoyment factor. I had many friends who used to play football. My two older brothers played football and my younger brother is a professional.”
Born in Swindon, Mills started his youth career at local club Swindon Town in 1999, before joining the Saints at the age of fourteen. “When I came to the youth team my brother once told me that when you train with the first-team you don’t get forgotten. Talking or training or doing something to stand ou to make sure that when the opportunity came for young players the manager would remember you. That kind of stuck in my mind and from there it’s just been a gradual progression in improving myself every day,” he quipped while speaking about his footballing development from a very young age.
Mills challenges for the ball in his side’s clash against Delhi
Many fans and critics alike, are expecting him to be the standout defender in the ISL this season, due to his experience of playing in Europe. Regarding this, setting his objectives straight, the former Reading player said, “For me, obviously, I have done a lot in my career, but that is the past and I am focused on the present right now. Hopefully, the team will progress really ahead and that’s why I have come to India to showcase my abilities.”
When questioned about how much time he needs to gel in with the team, to help his side repeat what they did last season, the defender replied, “The club had a fantastic season last time with a top-four finish, which is really great. The amount of change that has happened in the club since then, it will be difficult to do what we did last season. For me personally, I will focus on how to improve myself and do some changes in the way I train every day.”
“As far as the group I think we have a really good group. We socialize and mix together really well and we have a laugh at the right time. So, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being around all these players,” said Mills on the atmosphere in the team.
The Englishman also spoke about how football has developed in India over the last few years, “I spoke to a few Indian players and as per them the coaches were not great and the infrastructure was bad, but now the coaches for the young sides are improved which in-turn will help Indian football in the future. With ISL, the players are now exposed to different types of ways to play.”
When asked about his adaptation process in a new country he said, “I did the pre-season in England, trained hard to get fit for the opportunity here. In training, my intensity has increased.”
Signing off from the interview, the FC Pune City star also thanked the Orange Army for the reception he got, “The Orange Army gave me a fantastic welcome. For me, to travel here without my family and then getting such a welcome was very good. Hopefully, I will repay them by putting on great performances.”
Pune have played only one ISL fixture till now, which was a 1-1 draw against Delhi Dynamos. Mills played his part and will be involved in his side’s upcoming encounter against Mumbai City on Friday.