How did the move come about?
Simon Colosimo called me one day and said my name was floating around in the Indian papers and if I’m interested to make the move. At the time he contacted me I was left in the dark from an A-league club. I pretty much had a deal sorted and passed my medical and then something went wrong from their side. It made things difficult for me so when this came up I was happy to join East Bengal and give India a go.
You’ve mentioned wanting to win trophies. How confident are you in doing this with East Bengal?
East Bengal is the biggest club in India, on paper we have the best team in the competition, 90% of our team were also loaned out to the Indian Super League (ISL) that ran for 3 months – the most players from any other club – so it shows that we have the strongest squad in the league.
The team has also been together for a while and just missing out on the championship the last few years finishing 2nd, hopefully we can go one better this year.
Is winning the AFC Cup a realistic goal?
I’m not too sure. I’ve never played in the AFC Cup so I’m not sure of the quality of other teams but seeing their recent AFC cup campaigns they have been in the semi’s and quarter finals so why not?
Armando Colaço is a very successful and well-respected coach in India. Not much is known elsewhere about Indian coaches, can you tell us about him?
He is a very experienced coach who has won 5 I-League titles the most titles for a coach in India. He is also the only Indian coach to guide a team to an AFC Cup semi final so he knows Indian football inside out.
You have former Wellington Phoenix player Leo Bertos on your team. Has it helped having a familiar face? Which of your other teammates stands out to you so far?
Yes it has made it much easier. It’s always good to have someone you know with you, especially abroad.
Mehtab Hossain for me is a stand out player. He is a tough defensive midfielder that loves to get physical, something that not many Indians have in their game. He also has a good range of passing and is comfortable on the ball.
What have you made of the facilities and set up at East Bengal?
We have a decent complex, just the fields are not up to standard in India. It’s an area they really have to invest in.
How popular is football in India? Can you get a sense on the street of it and it’s growth?
Football is massive here, people love football especially now with the new ISL that has started. The ISL was the 4th most watched league in the world so that shows how things are developing here.
Football has taken you to quite a few destinations in your career. How does India compare to the other countries you’ve played in?
Very different. Very relaxed. Too relaxed. Things are done very slow here. You can never get things done quickly, there is always a wait.
Me and Leo were very lucky to find a nice five star Novotel that just opened a few months ago so we are staying there. We pretty much feel at home. We have great food, a nice pool and gym, and the manager of the hotel is from Melbourne so he looks after us well. We spend most of our time in the hotel so it has been ok for us.
On your travelling, you’ve recently become a father. Now you have a young family has this changed your approach to your career and decision making?
I chose to come here alone because my boy is only small, it would’ve been a big change for him. I only signed until the 15th of May. The season is very short so we will see what happens after that.