Former Newcastle United and Sunderland striker Michael Chopra was the only Englishman to feature in Thursday’s international players’ draft for the Indian Super League (ISL). He was snapped up by Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters. In an interview with The Indian Express, Chopra who is the first player of Indian parentage to play and score in the Premier League, talks about his desire to play for the Indian national team and also extend his stay beyond the ISL by trying his luck in the I-League. Excerpts
You’ve expressed desire in the past to play for India. How realistic is the dream at this stage of your career?
* I’m willing to relinquish my British citizenship to play for India. In my opinion, it’s very realistic. It is my dream to play senior level international football. Playing for the Indian national team will help me realise that dream.
Why do you wish to play for India, considering that the national team itself is going through one of its worst phases?
* I am of Indian heritage — as my father is Indian. Playing for the national side would be a challenge that I would relish. I want to show the people of India the positive impact I can make to the international team. With the investment in Indian football, I can only see the team’s FIFA ranking improving and I hope to be a part of that change.
After all these years in the English top-flight, how tough will it be to adjust playing in India?
* I have played in the Premiership where the facilities have been second to none and I have also played at clubs where the standard has been low. I believe it’s down to the players as a unit to make the best of what is available and to make sure training is always enjoyable. I know what to expect and I am ready for it.
You’ve had a tough year or so in terms of form…