Arata Izumi: Good to be back home

The Japanese-born Indian midfielder spoke of his ‘emotional’ connect with Pune among other things.

Arata Izumi of Atletico de Kolkata (front) in action against Chennaiyin FC in the 2015 ISL. Arata has now been signed for FC Pune City.   -  ISL/ SPORTZPICS

Recently, the Indian Super League side, FC Pune City, announced the signing of Arata Izumi from Atletico de Kolkata for the coming season. Even before kicking a ball, the Japanese-born Indian midfielder will be the fans’ favourite for an obvious reason. Arata plied his trade for the now defunct Pune FC in the I-League during six glorious seasons until 2015 and he now has the chance to add more memories to his scrapbook. In a short telephonic conversation with Sportstar, Arata spoke of his ‘emotional’ connect with the city among other things.

Question: How does it feel joining FC Pune City? You are basically a local boy, having played here for Pune FC in the I-League.

Answer: I’m really happy. It’s like coming home since my family is here. It’s a very exciting new chapter in my life. I have a lot of supporters here in Pune. Can’t wait to get started, I’m excited.

You have had some great memories with Pune in the I-League…

A lot of memories. I’ve had good times and bad times. I’ve spent quite a lot of time here, playing for Pune FC until 2015. Some of the highs in my career have been with this club where I have scored goals and helped the team win matches. It’s home for me, and will be an emotional experience to once again play in the city.

Have you spoken to coach Antonio Habas?

Yes, I got the chance to interact with him. We spoke a lot about football, but also general things like life and so on.

Did you have the chance to get together with the squad?

I spent some time with the Indian players, it was good to get to know my future team-mates. They made me feel welcome and comfortable. They are a top bunch of players, so very happy with the squad.

Pune FC pulled out of the I-League last year and this year it is Sporting and Salgaocar. What are your impressions?

Sad to see a great club like Pune go out and the other two as well. These clubs have massive history and tradition, but unfortunately things are changing. It’s sad because a lot of people have made sacrifices for their respective clubs only to see it go out of the league.

What is your personal target for the coming ISL season?

To win. I am confident since we have a very good squad. The previous seasons will not count for the coming ISL.

What is the realistic target for Pune this season?

Obviously, to win. There is no coach in the world who would want anything less. Habas is clear about what he wants, and we will do what it takes to win.

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