Last season, when Albert Roca took over as manager of Bengaluru FC, he largely inherited a squad assembled by his predecessor Ashley Westwood. The best he could do was to introduce a couple of players familiar with the possession-heavy style he wanted his team to play.
But this season, he has had the first opportunity to shape an entire squad in his mould and it is not surprising that he has turned to a battery of Spaniards. Dimas Delgado, a 34-year-old midfielder, most-recently at Western Sydney Wanderers in Australia, and formerly at Barcelona ‘B’, Numancia and Recreativo Huelva in Spain, is one among those.
“One of the principal reasons I am here is because I know Roca from the time I was at Barca ‘B’,” Delgado said after BFC’s first day of pre-season training here. “He was the assistant coach to Frank Rijkaard and at La Masia [Barcelona Academy] I trained a lot with the first team. I know his philosophy and I am sure we can enjoy our football here.”
“I also played with Juanan [BFC defender] at Recreativo and he told me good things about the club. Everything was true as I can see now.”
At Barcelona, Delgado was under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola before the latter took charge of the senior side in 2008. The lessons imparted there – to press higher, recover the ball early and then try and keep it forever – are the ones he still swears by. Delgado was even part of a Numancia side which beat Guardiola led-Barcelona.
“You just had to follow them,” Delgado said of the days he watched Messi and Co. train. “Everything just flowed… the style, the movement everything is just perfect. It was unbelievable. To be with Ronaldinho, [Samuel] Eto'o... Just wow! For me it was a fantastic experience.”
But equally important has been his big-match experience in Asia. As captain of the Sydney Wanderers, he turned out at the highest possible level – in the Asian Champions League. Though he said that he was lucky to have played for managers who shared his idea of football throughout, the considerably physical nature of play in Australia would surely have helped him.
“In A League, footballers prepare like athletes,” he recalled. “Teams can all run non-stop for 90 minutes. I enjoyed playing there.”
But beyond footballing styles and managers, being closer to his family in Spain was one of the reasons he chose BFC.
“I have a little girl (four months) and Australia is so far from Spain,” Delgado said. “It’s difficult because being so far is one of worst things for me now. So when BFC option appeared it was an interesting one and now I feel very happy.”
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