Former Moroccan World Cupper and 1998 African Player of The Year,Moustapha Hadji has been contacted by some agents in India to play in the proposed franchise-based Indian Professional Football League.
Hadji,who is currently here as an assistant coach with the local Umm Salal club,felt that it would be an honour to play in India.
“Jay Jay Okocha told me sometime back about an event in India. And someone also contacted me and asked me if would be interested to play in India,” Hadji said.
IMG-Reliance,the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) commercial partner,has been contemplating the IPL-like football event from next year.
But the event has run into trouble after I-League clubs have raised an objection and since then nothing concrete has come out. The league has been doing the rounds with the IMG-Reliance mooting an eight team franchise-based tournament with a marquee foreign player ever since the federation borrowed the idea from a private agency who launched the Premier League Soccer (PLS) along with the Indian Football Association (IFA) in Kolkata early this year.
The agency spent USD 7.1 million on the footballers at the auction which was held in January. But the event couldn’t be held after the national federation intervened and questioned the authenticity of hosting such an event without their permission.
Besides Okocha,Hernan Crespo,Fabio Cannavaro,Robert Pires,Robbie Fowler were chosen as the ‘iconic’ players of the eight franchisees by PLS.
Hadji,41,is unaware of the current status of the event. Still,he is keen to visit India.
“I’ve heard India plays football. And also know that they are doing well in the last two years or so after they came here for the Asian Cup last year,” he said.
“I know India is a big country. Playing there would be some kind of a thrill,I’m sure,” said the former attacking midfielder,who has played 63 matches for Morocco.
After an impressive 1998 World Cup,in which he scored a memorable goal against Norway,the Moroccan became much sought after in Europe,especially after being named African Footballer of the Year in the same year.
A year later,Hadji joined Coventry in England. After the club was relegated in 2001,he joined Aston Villa who released him on a free transfer to Espanyol in Spain in 2004.