There can’t be too many more frustrating situations for a professional footballer than when your team suddenly decides to disband or withdraw from a competition. Imagine if one player has to experience that twice? That is what 51-times India capped midfielder Steven Dias has gone through as he was with Mahindra United when it disbanded in 2010 and then most recently, the Mumbai-born player was left frustrated by the sudden withdrawal of Mumbai Tigers first from the I-League and then second division.
“Personally it was very frustrating. Both were difficult situations but equally disturbing. You know after winning the I-League with Churchill Brothers last summer, I had plenty of offers from other clubs including Bengaluru FC (current league leaders). But seeing an opportunity of returning to my home city I joined the Mumbai Tigers and initially everything was good there. However suddenly out of the blue it was decided we won’t take part in the I-League,” Dias said during an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
Although Mumbai Tigers still haven’t been disbanded officially, rumours are that owners Dodsal Group don’t see any future in the I-League and could invest in a team for the Indian Super League but Dias revealed that the players were not given a concrete reason for the withdrawals.
“No, not at all. We were never given a proper reason. We were just told that the chairman wants to withdraw the team from the I-League. Then it looked like we will play in the second division at least but that too eventually didn’t happen. I don’t know whether they will invest in a team for the football IPL but we were never explained the reason behind the withdrawals,” he said.
Dias has completed a move to Rangdajied United till the end of the season but he sympathises with the majority of the Mumbai Tigers squad who are still without a club.
“You know I and a few others are lucky that we have got a club but what about so many of the other players? Most of them are young and suddenly their careers have become uncertain. It is very unfortunate,” the former Air India man opined.
The dead-ball specialist has always been fighting for major honours throughout his domestic career so the relegation battle with Rangdajied will be a new experience but Dias is looking forward to this new venture and believes his new club are better than what the table suggests.
“I am delighted to have joined Rangdajied. Of course the coach, Santosh Kashyap, is a big reason why I signed for them because I know him from my Mahindra days. But you know I really like the atmosphere within the club and I feel they are a good side who don’t deserve to be so low in the table. It will be a different challenge for me here but hopefully I will be able to help them improve their position,” said Dias, who played in the Santosh Trophy zonals to keep himself fit and helped his home state Maharashtra reach the final rounds.
Dias is 30 now but still craves for a return to the India senior national team after being unfortunate to be dropped back in 2011. The right medio, who has scored seven international goals with the last one coming against Guyana during India’s Caribbean Tour in 2011, was surprisingly overlooked by Savio Medeira after the 2011 SAFF Championship triumph.
He was reluctant to talk about the reasons why he was dropped but admitted that the departure of Bob Houghton as India coach was a big setback for him personally. Dias was a regular member of the India team under Houghton, with the participation in the 2011 Asian Cup being the highlight, and was even close to trials abroad at that point of his career.
“I don’t want to talk much about why I wasn’t included in the team again after winning the SAFF Championship. I don’t know if it was bad performances or something else but there is no doubt that my career would have been better had Bob Sir remained in charge for longer. I improved so much under him and was playing my best football. But there is no point looking back now. I am just determined to represent India again,” he said.
For that to happen Dias must be consistent for Rangdajied and his deliveries from crosses and set-pieces could make a big difference in the Shillong club’s survival bid. The north-east club resume their I-League campaign with a potential relegation six-pointer against one of Dias’ former clubs, Churchill Brothers, on Tuesday and the Manchester United fan is aiming for a winning debut.
“I haven’t spent much time with my new teammates but they are already making me feel at home and we are all looking forward to this game. It is a very important clash because of our position in the table so hopefully we will be able to take all three points,” he concluded.Published 10 Feb 2014, 22:24 IST