‘ISL a great adventure’

A new experience…David Trezeguet feels ‘absolutely no pressure’ being the marquee player of FC Pune City.-M. SRINATH

“For the future, the Indian Super League has to look at itself, see how it has gone and what steps to take for the next edition. It has been an important step for Indian football,” says the former France striker, David Trezeguet, in a chat with N. Sudarshan.

Former French striker David Trezeguet is someone who has experienced agony and ecstasy in equal measure. While the 1998 World Cup win and the golden goal in the 2000 EURO final fall under the first category, Juventus’ relegation in 2006 after the Calciopoli scandal and his missed penalty in the World Cup final shootout the same year form a part of the latter.

Considered one of the best strikers of his generation, the 37-year-old, now with FC Pune City in the Indian Super League (ISL), shared his thoughts in an interview with Sportstar.

Excerpts:

Question: What are your early impressions of India?

Answer: Good. But it is important for the level of the game to keep improving. It will, over time. It is a great adventure and it will certainly get better.

You have played in the best leagues in the world. What made you come here?

For a new experience in life. Also, to give a hand and promote football in India and to show how professional footballers play in Europe and around the world.

Does the tag of a marquee player bring any pressure?

Absolutely no pressure. What are the Indian players getting from you?

Basically professionalism. Learning day by day from experienced players, on how they train, their attitude and dedication to the game.

Pune had a training stint in Italy. What are the positives from that?

Right now if you see, it won’t seem much, because we are not first. But it could be important in the long run. It should give a heads-up because we have trained together for a good time.

You are 37 and yet look to be in good shape. But is it tougher in India’s humid conditions especially when you have to travel so much?

We have to adapt. It’s the coach’s job to keep us fresh. Since we play so many games in a week, he has to rotate the players. Some will play less, some more. But that’s fine.

You played for Juventus even after it was relegated. Other star players left. The ones at the club would have looked up to you in those tough times. Is it similar here where Indian players will also be looking to you for motivation?

This is something teams look for when they sign big players. It’s a same thing here too. ISL is also opting for players with experience to help Indians.

But why did you stay with Juventus even after the relegation?

I stayed back because the club gave me a lot and I had to be there at the moment of need. It was to give something back (to the club).

And prior to that, you played with the likes of Pavel Nedved, Zinedine Zidane and Alessandro Del Piero...

That’s the best one can ask for.

You went back to Argentina in 2010 to play for River Plate. What made you leave the lucrative European football? You would have definitely had suitors.

It was a personal choice. I had reached the maximum level at Juventus. I chose River Plate because I support River and it was a dream to play there.

Your career started in South America. Has its football changed since the days you left?

The last World Cup final was Germany versus Argentina. So things have changed for the better. Potential players come from South America, but they play in Europe because clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have the money and prestige. Lionel Messi, Neymar, James Rodriguez, Luis Suarez are all at the highest level in Europe.

You scored the golden goal in the 2000 EURO final. But in the 2006 World Cup final you missed a penalty. Does that still hurt?

No. It doesn’t. These things happen and we move on. In the museums, I see only the cups I have won.

Coming back to the ISL, how long do you plan to stay here?

It has been a good experience. But for the future, ISL has to look at itself, see how it has gone and what steps to take for the next edition. It has been an important step for Indian football. We will see how it goes and take a decision.