A prolific defender and the heart of Jamshedpur FC’s defence, José Luis Espinosa Arroyo aka Tiri can easily be classified amongst the Best Defenders in the Indian Super League this season.
Having played for Atletico B, Tiri started off his ISL career playing for Atletico de Kolkata where he won the title in the 2016 season before making a switch to the newly introduced side of Jamshedpur FC in 2017.
Ever since his appointment for Jamshedpur, Tiri has been one of the important players for the Men of Steel and is, currently the captain of the Team.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Tiri opened up on his experiences of playing in India, settling in Jamshedpur and beyond...
What is the story behind your nickname Tiri?
My cousins named me Tiri four years ago. It is difficult to make people understand it. Let it be a secret between me and my family.
From Atletico B, you arrived at Atletico Kolkata (now ATK) in the ISL. What was your first impression of India? What made you re-sign with ATK and then continue with Jamshedpur FC?
I had never left Spain and the truth is that I hit quite a change! But With time, I felt more comfortable and adapted well, I felt like a football player! I came back to Kolkata because in my first year, we went out in the semifinals ... and I liked the challenge of going further and in the second year, we were champions!
Coming to Jamshedpur, a club again, that is growing, I came back because I would like to make history here. I think the club will grow gradually and will be one of the best clubs in India!
Did you consult with someone else before coming to India?
I checked with the family and my mother. I was afraid in the beginning as India is so far(from Spain), but my father and friends encouraged me to pursue my dream!
You have seen different playing conditions in India: the humidity in Calcutta, pollution in Delhi, the warmth of Bangalore and heat in Jamshedpur. Now, there’s football being played under the snow in Kashmir. Have you seen a different type of India in each of these places and does the country surprise you?
For me, it is hot everywhere I have gone to play here in India. But there are many changes - heat, sometimes cold, then humidity. At some places, it rains too much and in others, it hardly rains. So for me, India is special.
Playing for the Atletico main team or representing the country, what's your biggest dream in football? And what do you consider is the biggest moment in your career?
I was lucky to play against big players in Spain and training with Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Koke, Diego Godin, Saul etc and taking down orders from Diego Simeone! I think I turned a little of my dream. The largest was when to earn my first title as a professional player in the ISL!
Many consider India to be a unique country. There's organisation in chaos (traffic), happiness in the simplest of things, friendship, bonding over food and a different kind of life. When you first arrived in India, how curious were you about the Indian way of life? What is the strangest thing that you found about India?
Here I feel happy, people have a big heart, in case I have any problems they are always are helping. Will always remember all these years all my life!
What do you miss most about Spain?
Sometimes affection of the family and friends! And also some food (laughs).
Have you tried Indian Cuisine? Do you like the spice?
I came with the idea of trying it all, and so I did! I love spicy food, but not as strong as many of my fellow mates!
You've won the title of ISL once with ATK. What do you remember from that night? You had to play 120 minutes football and then a penalty shootout. How physically demanding was?
Was a special night, at first I could not believe it (because it was first title ever). After that game, I went to Spain celebrating! It was a very demanding match and also hard (on the players). We played in the opponent’s Stadium (Kochi) and scored first. But the luck of penalties was on our side.
There’s quite a bit of Spanish flavour in the Jamshedpur FC team. Does it help you to get along with each other really well?
I never had problems with any companion, I can gel with all well! But it’s good to talk in your own language.
Memo, Sergio Cidoncha, Mario Arques, Paul Morgado, Carlos Calvo - Pick your favourite and tell us why?
I can't choose one because to me every one of them are great professionals! I would choose all of them and also the rest of the team
What you think the city of Jamshedpur?
It is smaller as compared to other cities in the ISL. I like what Jamshedpur offers me, I think slowly the city will grow as well as the club and that will be good for the people!
Favourite stadium in India?
I love the environment in Kerala! But after playing at the furnace (JRD) it is my favourite.
The toughest attacker you have faced and why?
John Stiven Mendoza (former Chennaiyin FC striker) is a player who is fast, strong and smart! He was hard to stop.
Jamshedpur FC are enjoying a good run in the ISL. What's clicking for the team this time around?
It is the second year of the team in the ISL and I think we are doing things well! You must go step by step and grow together.
How inspiring is it to have Tim Cahill in the dugout? You have also played with Helder Postiga.
To have a legend like him in the locker room, the only thing you can do is watch and learn from him! I was also lucky to play with Helder Postiga, and also with Borja Fernandez, Javi Lara etc.
What was your favourite ISL game this season? Is it the 4-1 win against FC Goa?
The game that I enjoyed more was the game against Goa, I think it was the first game that I played where we enjoyed in the last 10-minutes than suffering!
How do you wind up after a difficult game?
First, I talk with fellow mates and then call the family, they are my support! After that, I like to see what errors we committed in the match again!
Favourite place in Jamshedpur? (The Stadium is not an option!)
I don’t go out much ... spend more time in the room and in the gym!
What is the reason behind Jamshedpur FC being considered a defensively solid team?
I think it was our first year, with Steve Coppell, we were very well defensively but that cost us in scoring more goals. With Cesar Ferrando, we have more occasions, more goals and we have more fun playing the game. But we must be on guard and not grant goals to the opposition! We must take good decisions in the defensive half.