After finishing sixth in the first edition of the Indian Super League scoring just 12 goals in 14 matches, FC Pune CIty have their eyes set on the biggest prize in Indian club football. Having signed Adrian Mutu as their marquee player, they splashed the cash in the ISL auction to buy the I-League player of the year Jackichand Singh and midfielder of the year Eugeneson Lyngdoh for a massive Rs. 1.50 crores.
FC Pune City have now found the perfect player to partner Mutu up front in the form of former Turkish international Tuncay Sanli. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the former Middlesbrough and Fenerbahce player talks about FC Pune City, David Platt and his much-awaited partnership with Adian Mutu.
You have played professional football in England, Germany, Turkey and Qatar. What do you expect from Indian Football?
I am an experienced player with a Premier League and German League background and have played in Fenerbahce. I now find myself fortunate to be a part of the Indian Super League since the league is gaining tremendous popularity worldwide and is the fourth most watched league in the world. Also whenever I had a conversation with the Pune management they always emphasise how they plan to win the title this year and I wants to play a crucial role in achieving it.
I am sure if the players apply themselves and work together the quality will shine and we will make all the fans proud of the team and when the league begins there is only one thing is in my mind, to become the Champion of the league.
You would have definitely had a few offers on the table. Why did you choose India?
I have a very good background in the biggest teams and leagues in the world, but I like a challenge and the ISL is a very good challenge for me because I am the first Turkish player to play in Qatar and now I will be the first Turkish player to play in India. I like to be a pioneer in football.
You have played under some very good managers in the past Fateh Terim, Gareth Southgate among others and now you will play under David Platt. What have you discussed in the conversations you have had with him?
David comes with great experience and has been a part of big teams like Manchester City. His expertise and methodology is unique. I remember seeing him managing the England U-21 side when I was a part of the Turkish U-21’s. We spoke then and I have always found him very approachable and professional.
Pune struggled for goals last season but a lot of money has been invested in the club for this season. Have you set any targets for yourself on a personal level?
I want to represent the fans of Pune on the pitch. I want to build a special relationship with the fans I am aware of last season but the new season is a different season which I am going to be a part of with many other big names and Indian players. That’s why I want to share the enthusiasm with the fans of the team and at the same time I will be representing Turkey in India.
It’s an honour for me as a Turkish player to play in the ISL and I hope to do both the fans of Pune and Turkey proud. With my performances, I am looking forward to play in the coming season and I am very optimistic about the possible outcome.
You will play alongside Adrian Mutu in Pune’s frontline. Are you excited about the partnership?
It will be an honour to share the locker room with all the players of Pune including Mutu and I hope that all of us can bring ultimate glory to the club. When you put me and Mutu on the same team you should expect many goals and offensive productivity. I believe Mutu and I will have a good partnership on the pitch.
Pune have a great mix of experience and youth in the team, how much can the youngsters learn from international players?
I am giving a lot of importance to the youngsters in the team. So Indian players will have the chance to cooperate and communicate with me. I am very eager and open for such a collaboration. I want to share my experience, my knowledge, my professional skills and technique with the players because I believe I that sharing is the key to success which you never regret letting youngsters learn from you. As a football professional and a human being, it will make me very happy to share my experiences.
Having played in Qatar do you think the country will be ready to host the 2022 World Cup?
I believe that the World Cup is a matter for FIFA. I am a football player. However, in Qatar I have seen a passion for football that’s why FIFA have given the World Cup to Qatar. But again this is a question for football organisers.
Turkey has attracted a lot of big names in recent years like Sneijder and Drogba while van Persie and Nani have been signed this season. But the National team has been struggling. What is your take on that?
Even though the League has big names the National team is not as successful as it should be because I think that the young players are given a lot of attention and that’s why the player stops improving himself. The training and football education is not well organised I feel that the grounds should be much better. The approach should be more on education and not just getting one young talent in the limelight and not to improve himself. The players have to be more responsible.
Where did you enjoy playing football the most?
I had very good times in Fenerbahce that’s why I would say the best time I had was in Fenerbahce. I am a Fenerbahce fan so I can never forget that. But apart from Turkey the English Premier League was the most influential league in my career.
Apart from the two hattricks for Turkey, which is the most memorable goal you have scored?
The three goals I scored against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. It was a proud moment especially playing against a team like Manchester United. This was eleven years ago, but the memories are still fresh. But now I am thinking about my next hat trick and hopefully that will be for FC Pune City.
Any message for the FC Pune City fans?
I want to represent the fans on the pitch. I want to build a connection and a special relationship with them. I want to share their passion energy and enthusiasm and at the same time I want to represent Turkey in India.