Acosta: ‘Came to India because East Bengal is a big club’

East Bengal had created quite a stir in Indian football when it signed 35-year-old Johnny Acosta, who played all three games for Costa Rica at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Johnny Acosta of Costa Rica vies for the ball with Brazil's Neymar during the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Russia. Acosta was signed by East Bengal for the I-League.   -  Getty Images

Costa Rican defender Johnny Acosta said he had no idea about Indian football and it was only the rich history of East Bengal that drew him to sign up with the prestigious club.

East Bengal had created quite a stir in Indian football when it signed 35-year-old Johnny Acosta, who played all three games for Costa Rica at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“When I signed, I only knew that East Bengal are a big club with great history. I have no idea about ISL or any other tournament. I came here because East Bengal are a big club,” said the Spanish-speaking Costa Rican centreback.

Having got a sponsor, East Bengal was in talks to take part in the ISL but reports claim that the number of teams may not be increased this season.

Read: No interpreter available, East Bengal calls off Acosta unveiling

“I have not seen any Indian football matches before. The one I saw on October 6 (East Bengal’s Kolkata league match against WB Police) was my first. I don’t know anything about the leagues in India as well,” said Acosta, who once played against Lionel Messi back in 2011 in the Copa America.

A fan of Paolo Maldini, Acosta further said he is ready to take the field for East Bengal.

“I am ready. I am just waiting for my paper works. Once they are ready I will start playing,” the defender, who will sport his usual No 2 jersey, said.

Asked if the language would be a concern, Acosta said: “Language has never been a problem for me. I will not face any problem adjusting here as football has only one language. This is football.”

Acosta said it was disappointing that Costa Rica finished last in group E and crashed out early despite an impressive show in Russia World Cup.

“It was disappointing definitely. We were playing against such a top side like Brazil and we had almost managed to get a draw against them,” he said during the media conference which was called off yesterday as East Bengal had forgotten to hire an interpreter.

“Unfortunately, they scored and we were left heartbroken.”

Acosta, with 71 International matches for Costa Rica, was impressive against Neymar’s Brazil, who required two stoppage-time goals from Coutinho and Neymar to beat them 2-0.

Asked about playing against Neymar, he said: “It was a very good experience for me. Not only I had a great experience of playing against the entire Brazil side.

“Overall a very good experience playing against Switzerland, Serbia and Brazil. Our entire team played very well,” Acosta said.

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