ISL final: Chennaiyin's Inigo Calderon proud of two goal-line clearances against Bengaluru FC
The 36-year-old right-back also won the Fittest Player of the League award as Chennaiyin won their second ISL title
If there is one man Chennaiyin FC can thank for their 3-2 win over Bengaluru FC in the ISL final, it is their right-back Inigo Calderon. The veteran defender made crucial blocks in the game to deny Bengaluru two sure-shot goals.
Turning 36 midway through the season, Inigo Calderon played 20 games in all. Clocking 1,800 minutes, he also walked away with the Fittest Player of the League award after Chennaiyin FC beat Bengaluru 3-2 in the final.
"I'm proud to say that at 36 that I've been looking after myself in the last 15 years," Inigo said after the game.
"I'm very proud, not only of myself but also proud of all the players over 30 that worked really, really hard to prove that they can earn a new contract and I would like to dedicate it to all of them."
Calderon had made two crucial goal-line clearances in the game - one of his own making when his attempted clearance had given Bengaluru a shot on goal, only for him to come in the way and deflect a goal-bound shot away for a corner.
"Yes, it was a bad clearance," he admitted. "So I had to make up for that."
The second clearance came in the second half when he denied Bengaluru defender John Johnson a clear goal b putting his body on the line to deny the Englishman a header a yard away from goal.
"Sometimes you have to do that - you have to put your body on the line - whatever it takes if you want to win a game like today."
"We knew when wwere in the lead that we would not concede any more goals and we played really well. We've had a good season and we deserved to lift the trophy today."
What was Chennaiyin's gameplan going into this match, though?
"Well, I think the key to the win was that we didn't lose our heads when they scored a goal. We had the confidence in our abilities to score more goals.
"So that was key: Don't lose focus trying to score quickly. I think we were patient, we counted on our experience to not lose our heads and we worked hard for the result."
36 is an age when most footballers hang up their boots. But will the fittest player in the league return for one more season?
"I don't know yet, now I want to rest," he said laughing. "I want to go see my family. It's been a long season for me without my family. I want to go home and rest and, after that, we'll think about my future."