Mohamed Sissoko is the youngest marquee player ever to ply his trade in the Indian Super League as the Malian international is currently captaining the FC Pune City side in the ongoing ISL. His crunching tackles and leadership qualities have made Pune supporters a fan of his playing style as Sportskeeda caught up with him to ask him about a host of issues ranging from the road ahead for the Stallions under his old advisor Antonio Habas to his former club Liverpool's title credentials.
Sissoko has played for a number of elite clubs in Europe as he won the FA Cup with Liverpool during his three-year stint with the Reds. The 'Malian Viera' as he is dearly called in his homeland because of a similar playing style to French stalwart Patrick Viera has won league titles with Juventus and PSG.
He recently played in a friendly with West Brom against Delhi Dynamos as the 31-year-old also recently had an experience of playing in the cash-rich Chinese League. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Momo Sissoko spoke on a range of issues :
1. FC Pune City haven't had the best of starts this season. What do you think needs to be altered to get Pune back to winning ways?
We need to work on our spacing and complete the passes more.
2. Earlier in an interview, you had said that you will help this experience of playing in ISL to prove that you are ready to play in the big leagues. What do you make of the quality of this league?
The quality of football in ISL is fantastic, I feel it is going to grow more in near future. Indian football will grow a lot in the near future, the way Cricket grew in India. It will take time to grow but it will be big.
3. Pune has many exciting Indian talents in their squad. Which Indian star has impressed you the most?
Indian players in our squads are no more players for me but they are brothers to me now. The way they are playing has impressed me. And its not anyone player but almost each and everyone of them.
4. You knew Antonio Habas since you were 17 from your Valencia days. How has it been working with him and whom will you compare him to with the modern football managers?
Habas is like my father, he has seen me playing since my young age, he understands my game and he knows what kind of responsibilities I can take up on and off the field. Comparing him to a modern football manager will not be enough as his experience cant be compared.
5. What do you think needs to be done to improve the quality of Indian football?
I think the quality is fantastic, the growth of Indian football has already begun now the fans and the people just need to be patient. The growth of certain sport won't happen in a short span of time, it takes its own time to reach people's heart.
6. You have achieved a cult status at Liverpool from your time with the Reds! Are you still in contact with some of the players that you played with in England?
I am in contact with my teammates, I do talk to them whenever I get time from the game and training. I do talk to Gerrard, Del Piero, and Marchisio.
7. Your performance against Barcelona in 2007 was one of the best performances by a defensive midfielder in that season? How high do you rate that game in your long career?
That one, of course, helped me improve my game and I learned a lot about myself and my game, it was one of the best performance of my life.
8. Rafael Benitez played a crucial role in promoting you to the first team in Valencia and then bringing you at Liverpool. How was your relationship with Rafa?
Rafael is like my brother, he supports me a lot on and of the field. We have a special bonding between us and our friendship is special to me.
9. How far do you think Liverpool can go this season under the enigmatic Jurgen Klopp?
Liverpool will win this season, it's their season. Klopp is very clear about the vision and the team. So it's going be Liverpool.
10. Lastly, after the two months in India, what are your plans for the future? Will we see you back in an Orange shirt of Pune City?
For now, I need to concentrate on my present and this season, I am not thinking about post ISL right now.