Interview: Michael Chopra - "The quality of the ISL shocked me"
Michael Chopra might not exactly be a household name, but he is a name that most Indians recognise because of his origins. An England youth International, he has played for powerhouses like Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, and Cardiff City, scoring a career total of 118 goals and has played in both the English Premier League and Championship.
He has also expressed an interest in representing India on the international stage, and he is even trying to get an Indian passport. In an Exclusive with Sportskeeda, he talks India, the Indian National Team, and ISL.
How does it feel to be back in India?
It is great to be back. Obviously, I was disappointed not to back be back last year. But, I will make a real effort on things, I have a lot to prove to a lot of people, I hope that I get to show people the real Michael Chopra. This time, I am mentally and physically prepared to do that.
What do you need to be done for Indian football to elevate to the standard of the game in European countries?
I think one of the main factors is training facilities, obviously with the FIFA U-17 World Cup next year, it will accelerate the process. But, if India wants to compete with European Teams and European countries, there needs to be a lot more facilities.
You look at all the cricket facilities in India, they’re great. I know, the ISL is in its third year, and each year it's getting better. The facilities influenced by ISL is also getting better, so hopefully in a few years time, there will be a lot more of that.
You have always reiterated the fact that you wanted to play for India, so have you started the process of formalities needed to do so?
Yeah, the process has actually taken longer than expected, I thought it would be a lot easier, but it’s not straight forward. It involves giving the citizenship in one country and getting the citizenship in another country, I will continue trying to until I get the passport.
How would you assess the contribution to Kerala’s tournament in ISL 1?
Well, I think, I was honest with everyone before I signed this year, and I told everyone that I didn’t play to the best of my abilities because I wasn’t physically fit, I thought playing in the Premier League and playing in the Championship, it would be easy for me to just stroll into India, and just play football.
But, I got a bit of a shock and I am trying to make sure that I put it right this year. To be honest, it was a great experience in ISL 1, and I am looking forward to this year and hopefully we can get to the final again.
ISL has had managers with great International pedigree (both ex-players and managers), do you think the Indian National Team needs something similar?
Yes, you could say that. The manager of International teams, every country has got good managers. It is good that the ISL can bring managers like Materazzi and Zambrotta. Our manager Steve Coppell has played for Manchester United and the England national team. I think it will benefit the ISL and India National Team if they get managers who have done something in the game.