We have a much balanced squad: Sabrosa

The 35-year-old attacking midfielder, who had notable stints with big European clubs like Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, hopes to fulfil his latest contract with the ISL outfit NorthEast United FC by taking it to the summit of excellence.

Simao Sabrosa hopes to change the fortunes of NEUFC.   -  AP

Simao Sabrosa brings the class and flair of Portuguese football that he had developed, playing alongside the likes of Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. The 35-year-old attacking midfielder, who had notable stints with big European clubs like Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, hopes to fulfil his latest contract with the ISL outfit NorthEast United FC by taking it to the summit of excellence. Sportstar had a chat with him.

What prompted your decision to play in the ISL? Did you know about Indian football before coming here?

I was aware about the Hero Indian Super League and I had a chat with my good friends, Joan Capdevila and Luis Garcia after last year’s ISL. They had good things to say about the league and gave me positive feedback. From what I have seen so far, I have to say that they were right.

What are your first impressions about the NEUFC team and the North-East region, which is its support base?

I think that the Indian boys in the team are very talented and they have the potential to do very well. The supporter base is very passionate. I have seen that ever since I landed in India. I hope that they will turn out in large numbers like they did last year and support the team.

In the ISL, you are joined by your Portuguese team-mate Helder Postiga, who is playing for the champion, Atletico de Kolkata. How do you see this situation -- the two of you playing in rival teams.

Postiga is a good friend and a good player. We will give the best for our respective teams. I am sure that the competition will be fair and the better team will win.

Your team, NEUFC, finished at the bottom of the table last season. Where do you think it went wrong and how do you look to contribute in helping it improve its performance this season?

I believe that we have a much balanced squad this year. Our aim is to try and make it to the play-offs. After that, we will give our best to become champions. I believe that I can help the team going forward and create opportunities for the strikers to score and chip in with some goals myself.

Having played with top professionals in big clubs of the tough European leagues, do you think your job gets easier here in ISL?

Not at all. Football is a tough sport and every league has its own set of challenges. The level and quality of play here will be tough as there are many good players in each team. I am expecting stiff competition and will not get complacent.

You had Cristiano Ronaldo as your national team colleague when playing in tournaments like the European Championship and the World Cup? How do you recall that experience and what makes Ronaldo so special?

Cristiano is a hard-working machine. Our team became stronger in these competitions with players like him and Figo. Cristiano is the first one to come to the training pitch and the last one to leave it. His dedication is unbelievable. His hard-work has got him to where he is. He is never satisfied with good, he wants to be the best and I believe he has the right to claim that.

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