Marcos Tebar, one of many skilled Spaniards contracted to clubs in the Indian Super League, featured in two semifinals. He pulled the strings in Delhi Dynamos FC midfield in 2016 season, then switched to FC Pune City in 2017 and made an impact with his passing. Two seasons, two semifinals and the one-time Real Madrid U-19 and Girona midfielder is back with Dynamos until June 2019.
Leaving successful squads after playing the semifinals takes some doing. Tebar explained: “When I played for Delhi, after we reached the semifinal (2016 season), they (Delhi team management) changed everything… changed the staff and players. I thought Pune City had better players than before, so decided to go there (2017).” His value came through in passing percentage of 81.72 over 17 games involving 848 passes (besides one goal, two assists, six shots at goal, five crosses).
Joseph Gombau, newly-appointed Delhi coach, got in touch with his countryman. “I realised that I fitted into this type of football after talking to the coach and finding out what he wanted from me,” said the 32-year-old playmaker for whom ISL was a chance to strike a rapport with exciting foreigners and talented Indians. “I played with Florent Malouda, Marcelinho, Kean Lewis (at DD), all attacking players. Last year (PC) teammates were Marcelinho, Emiliano Alfaro, Adil Khan, Mohd Ashique… they understood my football.”
Passing the ball around and keeping possession for long periods is one of the fundamental elements in Spanish football. Asked if Spain suffered at World Cup 2018 due to overdoing the possession part without the finishing to match, he observed: “Spain will continue on the same lines. The Russia World Cup saw team coach change (World Cup coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked over conflict of interest issue by the Spanish federation and Luis Hierro was put in charge at the 11th hour). For me, the coach problem was a big issue and the team did not perform to potential.”
Tebar interacted with young Indians and ws happy with their attitude. “The Indian players in Delhi and Pune wish to learn the passing game which Spain football stands for and keep telling me they feel more comfortable passing the ball around.”
Asked if the turf conditions in ISL home and away venues were satisfactory, he responded: “The grounds are decent and they try to improve the surface every year. The coach (Gombau) makes sure the grass surface at training and for matches has quality. Good pitches will help if we are to build moves from the back. I look forward to playing my part”. Delhi Dynamos' home base is the Jawarharlal Nehru stadium, one of FIFA U-17 World Cup venues last year.