Interview with Luis Garcia: "I have seen Indian players grow rapidly in front of my eyes"
Former Barcelona and Liverpool winger Luis Garcia arrived in Delhi on Friday for a live screening of the much awaited El Clasico matchup organised by the La Liga at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium. The Spaniard, who is a product of the Blaugrana's famed La Masia youth academy, has plied his trade for a host of other clubs in the Spanish top flight such as Atletico Madrid, Valladolid and Racing Santander.
He was a part of the Liverpool side that famously beat AC Milan in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul and has also won the FA Cup with the Reds in 2006. Eight years later as marquee player of Atletico de Kolkata in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League, he led his side to the title scoring two goals in 13 appearances.
We at Sportskeeda caught up with the man himself and spoke to him about his time in India and his experience of playing in the ISL. Here are a few excerpts!
You know all about playing in the ISL and what it takes to win the competition. How is it different from the other leagues you have played in, for instance, Mexico and Australia?
The ISL stands out among all other leagues as it is very compact and short in length as compared to other ones. Here, each game is more important and your team can slip down the points table drastically even if you just have two bad games in a row.
In a country as vast as India, it must have been challenging travelling from one place to another with very little time to rest. How did you adapt to the circumstances?
Yes, travelling to away venues far away in a span of few days was very hectic and difficult but we managed to keep ourselves fit and in tune as the league progressed. It was a matter of listening to what your body wants and staying in shape accordingly. Once, we had three matches in a single week and even though I wanted to play in every game, I had to take rest for one match. At 36, you realise you cannot play every minute of the season and that it is necessary to rotate.
How big a barrier was language in the Atletico de Kolkata team? It must have been difficult given the players came in from so many different parts of the world.
Thankfully, we didn’t have too many communication issues in our side. Most of us spoke English and were able to get our point across during the game, in training as well as in our day-to-day routines. Our coach Habas (Antonio Lopez) was not very good in the language but his assistant Miguel spoke English fluently and so it was not very difficult to understand what the manager was trying to convey.
Do you think the ISL has helped Indian players?
I personally think the league has helped improve the skills of the Indian players and looking at my teammates from the first season, I can say that they have come forward significantly. For example, our centre-back Arnab Mondal used to go to ground very easily while defending. But as the league progressed, I saw his positional sense improve and if you look at him now, he doesn’t dive into tackles and plays much more patiently.
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