Interview with Harry Kewell: "Academies are the way forward for Indian Football"
Former Premier League footballer Harry Kewell who has played for some of the elite clubs across Europe has now ventured into coaching with his first assignment being head coach of Premier League side Watford’s U-21 team. Harry is in Kerala at the moment with his side participating in the prestigious Sait Nagjee tournament held at the football loving district of Kozhikode. We caught up with him on an off-day where topics varying from the tournament to the Premier League were discussed.
Here are the excerpts from the exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
After nearly 20 years as a professional footballer you now venture into coaching and management. How well has the adaptation part been?
Harry: Its not been easy but it has been exciting so far, the variables which are being involved is much higher as a coach than as a player. You only needed to focus on yourself as a player but as a coach your attention span increases from yourself to about 20-25 people which come with great responsibility as you are accountable for the things players and staff are doing on and off the pitch.
How has the tournament been for your team in terms of exposure and competitiveness?
Harry: It has been good. We have had two good matches where the team was unlucky to lose the first match (against Atlético Paranaense Reserves ) but put on an excellent display against FC Rapid Bucureti. Tournaments like these should pop up more and more often since clubs can get a fair idea how their future stars are faring up against quality opposition
How have the facilities been? Have they met your expectations?
Harry: The organisers have done a good job in providing what all have been needed till now. The training facilities are good, could have been better but overall it has been satisfactory.
Is the ISL or I-League the way forward for Indian football?
Harry: It all depends on how well the tournament can focus on the youth setup providing exposure and competition for the local young talents that are involved in it. ISL has done a great job of increasing the awareness and viewership of football in India but if India has to progress footballing wise, it must be through the grassroots level and academies whether it might be through the ISL or I-league.
You played for clubs like Leeds and Liverpool who both are in a rebuilding phase right now. How do you assess the situation at both the clubs?
Harry: Football is a cyclical process and no team can be at the top for a long time, everyone will go through ups and downs. Leeds is a club with an excellent fan base and top notch facilities; they have what it takes to come back to the Premier League. Liverpool are in good hands at the moment, Klopp just needs some time. It’s so easy for everyone to sit and criticise but the fact is that it takes time for progress and development, Liverpool have got really talented players and it’s just a matter of time before they are back in full swing.
Now emphasizing on your playing career, who is the best manager you worked with?
Harry: I’ve had the honour of playing for some great managers, Frank Rijkaard at Galatasaray is one who did impress me a lot as a manager, the way he saw football and the attention to detail he gave made me respect him even more.
The best player you played with?
Harry: David Batty while I was playing at Leeds. He was a really tough guy, very confident and a commanding presence on the field.
The best goal you ever scored?
Harry: Every goal which I had scored was special for me, no single goal in particular stands out.
Can we get to see you in the ISL in near future?
Harry: At the moment I am very happy with what I’m doing, it’s something which is very exciting but who knows what the future holds for all of us?