Coppell to lead Kerala Blasters in ISL

Steve Coppell was the foremost right-winger of his generation known for his speed and work rate. He won domestic honours for Manchester United with 322 appearances and 53 goals.

Steve Coppell has racked up more than 1000 games as a league manager from 1984 to date.   -  Getty Images

Steve Coppell, the former England World Cupper, who has been appointed as the new head coach of Kerala Blasters FC, had his first taste of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the ISL team’s home base here, on Tuesday evening.

The 61-year-old Coppell, a former Manchester United winger who later coached Crystal Palace and Reading FC, arrived at the Kochi stadium a few minutes after the Blasters team management officially announced his appointment today and left for England this evening.

“He had offers from other clubs in India but he said he picked Kerala because he liked the place very much. He was very keen to come to Kerala, that’s something we like very much about him,” said Nimmagadda Prasad, who joined the Blasters as a co-owner a few weeks ago. “

“He was at the ground for about half hour, this is his first trip here, that is why we wanted this visit to be a quiet one. We want him to settle down first.”

Coppell, who met the Kerala Football Association officials including President K.M.I. Mather here this evening, will be the Blasters’ third English coach, after former England goalkeeper David James and former England coach Peter Taylor.

After finishing runner-up in the ISL’s first edition, the Blasters finished at the bottom last season but Prasad, an Andhra Pradesh businessman who donated Rs. 5 crore a few years ago and helped Gopi Chand set up his successful badminton academy, said that the team would have a very good name as its marquee player.

The Blasters virtually played without a marquee player last year after the team’s biggest signing, former Spanish World Cup winner Carlos Marchena, was injured almost all through the season.

Fitness will be something the team management will be looking at very closely before picking players this season.

The Blasters team, which has Sachin Tendulkar as a co-owner, had its pre-season training in Thiruvananthapuram last season but it is likely to be Kochi this time.

For co-owner Prasad, coming to Kochi was like walking down memory lane.

“It’s a bit of a home-coming for me. My first job was with the Indian Molasses Company many years ago and my training was in Kochi,” he said. “I used to stay in Ernakulam and used to take ferry to Willingdon Island every day.

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