Mumbai City FC did not extend Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan’s contract after the 2016 Indian Super League (ISL) season despite the prolific goal-scorer’s desire to continue spearheading the attack for the Mumbai side. Instead, the former Manchester United striker went to play in Hong Kong Premier League after the ISL snub.
“I wanted to come to India to play in the ISL, but there were no offers. I didn’t have the opportunity to come back to play for Mumbai City FC, which I wanted to do. Then I took a break to spend it with my family for a few months as my wife delivered a baby girl. Then I got a good offer from Hong Kong. I had been to Japan and India previously. I wanted to see another country,” said Forlan while speaking to the reporters after tires manufacturers BKT inked a three-season deal with LaLiga to make them their official global partners.
The ISL and the Major League Soccer (MLS) don’t have a relegation system in place. Forlan feels both the leagues should implement a relegation-promotion system like the rest of the world. “The ISL and the MLS don’t have a relegation system and you have to understand. But the fact is that the owners put so much money to make the sport popular. If your team is going to relegate, the owners will feel that they’re investing so much but getting nothing in return and could be relegated too. It’s tough. I prefer the format they play in across the globe.” said the former Atletico Madrid striker, who quit international football a couple of months ago after a 21-year career.
While he already has a South American coaching licence, the Uruguayan plans to travel to Europe next year to earn a UEFA coaching licence. Forlan further admitted that he is open to coaching Indian teams. “I had a good time here when I played. So, why not? It would be really nice,” Forlan said.
Forlan is no stranger to Indian football after his brief spell with Mumbai City FC in 2016. Despite India’s mixed results on the international scene, the 40-year-old believes Indians have the physical and technical attributes to be a success in football but lack enough opportunities derail chances of improvement. “They can do many things. Not because they don’t have it. I played with some very good players in Mumbai. Sunil (Chhetri) is a very good player. He could have been in Europe had he got the opportunity to stay longer in Europe. Then Pronay (Halder) and Sehnaj (Singh) were physically strong midfielders,” the 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner stated. “But you need to create an (environment) at the grass-root (level) and the youngsters, they need to start playing and competing for more,” he added.
Lastly, Forlan called for convenient opportunities to play the sport. For him, India should lay out a roadmap to succeed swiftly. “Every country is different. When I went to play in different countries I needed to adapt. It is not necessary that Forlan in Spain would be as good as Forlan in India as the conditions impact you. So for me, every country is different and must find their own ways (to succeed),” Forlan said. “Here, with six-seven facilities, you cannot do anything. In Mumbai, if you put one facility here (in South Mumbai), nobody is going to come from the other side (suburban areas), so in Mumbai, you need (at least) six different facilities. Then you go to Goa, Kerala, so you need big infrastructure, money and then you need coaches,” he concluded.