Structural development, promoting local talent necessary in Indian football: Cahill
Kolkata : Australian football legend Tim Cahill, who is also Jamshedpur FC's marquee signing for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season on Saturday claimed Indian football to be in a "good place" but stressed on the importance to further develop the structure and bring up local talent.
The 38-year-old Australian record goal scorer also said he is under no pressure for being one of the biggest players in the ISL and pointed out that good infrastructure and professional approach by the club owners attracted him to the Jamshedpur club.
"I think Indian football is in a good place but structure is the most important thing and in Jamshedpur, I signed up for that structure," Cahill told reporters here on the sidelines of ISL media day.
"I have played in all these countries across Asia...I understand a lot of the cultures. One of the biggest things I looked at while coming to India was the set up. The only thing I asked from the Tata group in Jamshedpur is professionals.
"And no stones have been left unturned. In terms of professionalism, I have no complaints. The food, the way we live, the way we travel... these are the most important things," he added.
The footballer, who announced his international retirement after playing in Russia World Cup this year, said he would like to contribute on the park as much as off it for the ISL club.
"There is no pressure. I want to give you guys hope to promote the league, to promote the teams. We have to show on the park and also off the park what we are creating as a football club and promote local talents," the former Everton star said.
"It is necessary to have good structure, professionalism. Something the fans can be proud of. I think we are in a good place this season.
"Good players are coming to the league. Lots of foreigners and it is our job of the foreigners to help pull up the talents. So with this you can have Indian talents for the national team here," he said of the prospects of the league.
Asked whether his age will come in his way with the long ISL season stretching from September 29 to March next year, the former Everton player said: "It's only 18 matches per season with good number of breaks in between. I'm used to playing 30-40 matches per season."
"It's not long for me, it's very short I would say. I would give my best," he added.
Pointing out that it can be tough to settle in a new league and a new country, Cahill said the main aim will be to be organised, play nice football and win games.
"First we have to focus on ourselves. We have been training well in the gym and also in the training pitch in Jamshedpur. It is about the way we play. Set play, fitness is very important..."
"I know it is going to be tough. New league, new horizon. But we want to be organised. Play nice football and obviously win games," he said.
Having scored a brace against him seven years ago in their 4-0 win over India in the Asia Cup, Cahill will play with goalkeeper Subrata Pal.
"I'm sorry for scoring," Cahill told Pal, seated on the same dias.
"I'm lucky enough to play against India. It was a memorable match. We swapped jerseys, took photos. I've some great memories. The most important thing is respect," he said.
Cahill received a warm welcome in Jamshedpur by the city fans with drum beats and dance.
"We are trying to be pioneers and be an example. We are focused in making a good structure something that the fans can be proud of. We want to make sure to tell the right story to the fans. It's on TV everywhere, it's global. Like cricket, like anything." he added.