Watt hoping to power Blasters to glory

"I think it’s (the ISL) going to be way different from last year and it will get better each year. And people who don’t really know about India, like me, now know a lot about the country and the other clubs." - Sanchez Watt

Sanchez Watt made his debut for Arsenal as an 18-year-old.   -  The Hindu

A few years ago, he was considered one of Arsenal’s great English hopes and even FC Barcelona had an eye on him. Sanchez Watt’s football journey may have lost much of its wind from those heady days but he is determined to add a lot of good things from the Indian Super League to his CV.

The winger-cum-striker, whom Arsene Wenger termed as “a bit of a street player and an aggressive striker who always finds resources to be dangerous,” will be wearing the famed No.10 jersey at Kerala Blasters FC, a shirt worn by ISL’s Most Valuable Player Iain Hume last year.

That could put some pressure, more so at Kochi’s packed Nehru Stadium, but the 24-year-old is up to the task. “I think the No. 10 at any club is a big number, from Pele’s days to Maradona and Messi,” said Watt in a freewheeling chat. “I only have one pressure… I pressure myself to do well.”

The hardworking Hume was one of ISL’s most popular players in its first year and Watt is clear about what he needs to do. “When you score goals, everyone loves you no matter which club you play for. All I’m here to do is to help my team win. If that means helping other players score goals, I’m going to put that ahead of me scoring goals,” said the former Arsenal winger who was released by Colchester United a few months ago. “I’ve not come here to be selfish, I’m here to come and win and do everything possible towards it.”

Playing for the Gunners, under Wenger and with many World Cup stars at the club, the youngster has learnt a lot. “He is one of the best managers in the world. And we had some of the best players in the world like Thierry Henry. You can learn a lot just by watching them. There was no Facebook then, so fans could only see them on match days. But you could see them every day, have a laugh with them and joke around, it was great.”

When it began last year, the ISL was almost considered as a retirement home for many top international stars. So despite such a promising early career, why did Watt choose India and the Kerala Blasters? “There were two big things, one was the manager, a very experienced manager Peter Taylor. I don’t think I am old so I can learn a lot from a manager who has done so much and is so highly rated,” he said.

“And the fans…when you play for a club and the fans are backing you every moment and showing you so much love, why wouldn’t you want to be here. And I get paid for it, that’s a bonus. Also, some players are not used to big crowds, so here you learn to play in front of a packed stadium. It’s good for us.”

He feels that his Indian journey would enrich his CV. “To be in another country, you can learn a different culture. It’s good on my CV. I can go back to England or back to another country or get back to the ISL, so it has opened up a lot of doors. It has opened up my mind about different football styles too.”

With many youngsters in many teams this season, the ISL could be a lot faster than last year, feels the Englishman. “I think it’s going to be way different from last year and it will get better each year. And people who don’t really know about India, like me, now know a lot about the country and the other clubs."

“And now that people are on Twitter and Facebook, a lot of people will be watching Indian players and when they do well, may be they can get a chance abroad…England or other countries.”

The big key to success in the ISL “is how the Indian players and the foreigners get along.

“And yes, the quickness and the sharpness…that’s our key. I don’t want to say too much…we will be ready.”