NorthEast United FC begins their ISL campaign on Saturday with a clash against City Football Group-backed Mumbai City FC. Unlike most of the teams which have announced their captain, the Highlanders have resorted to forming a leadership group which comprises of Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Federico Gallego, Lalengmawia, and Belgian defender Benjamin Lambot.
The 33-year-old had stints in his native country, Belgium, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus before he begins his first stint in Asia with the Indian Super League. Sportskeeda got the opportunity to interview Benjamin Lambot. Here is what he had to say:
Q. How did you begin your playing career in early childhood?
A: I started playing football when I was 6 years old in a small club in Brussel, the White Star Woluwe. A few years later I played for RWDM just before the A-team in AFC Tubize.
Q. How was your quarantine period? How did you take the flights to arrive in India?
A: The club arranged everything. While coming via flights, I travelled almost one whole day.
After 14 days in quarantine, it was difficult but I worked out in my room and we spoke with the staff on Zoom.
Q. As a defender, what type of player will you describe as yourself?
A: I was a midfielder before, so I like to play on the ground and build up from behind. I can be hard during duels but I am playing more positionally with my experience.
Q. You began your professional career in Belgium. Can you tell us a more about that?
A: When I was 20 years old, we won the Play offs of 2nd division with AFC Tubize, from this moment I became a professional and since then I never stopped.
Q. You had a brief stint in Azerbaijan. How was it like there?
A: I was in a bad situation in the first division in Belgium, and I wanted to play so I decided to move to Azerbaijan. It was not easy to play far from home but was a very good experience with the culture and football abroad. I have still many friends from that time.
Q. Can you describe your last season with Nea Salamis in Cyprus?
A: I liked the last season in Cyprus very much. I arrived in a club with good players. I didn’t miss a single game and I took a lot of pleasure to play there. We fought until the end in the Cyprus Cup and Play offs but we couldn’t succeed unfortunately.
Q. Which is your most cherished moment in football?
A: Two years ago we were the Champions of D1B league in Belgium with Cercle Brugge. I was the captain and raised the trophy. It was a wonderful feeling.
Q. How did you come to know about ISL?
A: I heard about the ISL a few times because some top players came here to play, and this year, few agents talked to me about the opportunity to come play here.
Q. Did you know any other foreign player who played in ISL in the past? If yes, what feedback did they give about the league?
A: Yes there were two Belgian players, but I wasn’t able to talk to them much. I have some friends who play in Asia, and they tell me that they take a lot of pleasure playing here.
Q. How will you describe Gerard Nus as a coach?
A: Gerard is a young coach with experience of coaching in many leagues. He has adapted very quickly to the ISL. He gives us an energy that he is a winner.
Q. What are your thoughts regarding Dylan Fox, your centre-back partner in NorthEast United?
A: Even without seeing each other, we were talking by text. We have a good feeling. We talk a lot about football to feel connected on the field. His work mentality will help the team.
Q. What do you think about the Indian players in NorthEast United FC's squad?
A: The general level is good. They are all hard-working, and they listen a lot the advices to improve themselves. I am happy to be in this team, the atmosphere of work is nice, they are all good people.
Q. The tournament will be entirely played behind closed doors and in one location. What are your thoughts regarding that?
A: The fact that we play all in Goa is good about travelling, because that is important for recovery. But of course we will be sad to not play in our stadium with the Highlanders. But we hope they will be cheer us from Northeast.
Q. What is your personal and team's goal for this season?
A: I came here to continue my career, to continue to take pleasure on the field, and to learn on another way to play and another culture. I want to do like usual, win something! I will help as much as possible on and off the field.
Q. Any message for NorthEast United FC's fans?
A: We are as excited as them. They can be sure that we work a lot, and we will give everything to bring them something at the end.Published 21 Nov 2020, 14:49 IST