David Trezeguet, the World Cup and European Championship winner, has had a storming beginning to his short stint in India. The Frenchman has already netted in each of the three friendlies that FC Pune City has played.
Though he is still struggling to communicate with his team-mates in English, he says he is trying his best to make the inaugural season of the Indian Super League into his esperienza di una vita — experience of a lifetime. Excerpts from the interview.
You spent nearly a decade at Juventus, scoring 138 goals. How do you remember your stint in Turin?
Juventus has been the most important team in my career. I have done eight beautiful years there. I have won a lot there. It was a winning team and there were lots of important footballing lessons that I learned in Juventus. The partnership with (Alessandro) Del Piero was special, both of us learnt a lot about the game. He is a model professional footballer.
Speaking of Del Piero, did your former Juventus mate seek your opinion before signing for Delhi?
No. But its like a catalyst. One important player signs on, others follow. Del Piero is here so is (Nicolas) Anelka and there is a possibility that others might come in too.
You won a World Cup with France in 1998 but also missed that all-important penalty during the shootout to decide the 2006 World Cup. What was going through your mind when your penalty hit the cross-bar?
There is nothing much to say. It’s a part of football. Not too much should be read into it. Not much goes through your mind when something like that happens. You learn to turn those moments away and concentrate on the things you won.
Do you think you retired a little too early from internationals, when you did so in 2008?
I would have definitely loved to have continued with the French national team. Having said that, perhaps when I left, it opened the doors of the national side for young talented players. They got a chance to experience the feeling of playing for the national team. Also, I think it was the right time for me to go as things were not working out with (coach Raymond) Domenech and there was no point sticking around and being unhappy.
Leagues in Asia or the Middle-East are alleged to be comfortable retirement plans for players who are winding their careers down in Europe. How do you react to this criticism?
This (ISL) is an experience that a few professionals have chosen. It should be taken in a positive way. We can show a lot of talent and possibilities for future development. People should not think that we have come here to end our careers. There are many positive things about this move. The rest is not important, let people think what they want.
FC Pune City has four Italian players and the technical staff is entirely Italian. Your time in Turin should help in this regard, shouldn’t it?
Yes, I was happy to have this Italian bunch because I am used to playing with Italians. I understand the Italian mentality and that’s important. As of now, we have come here as players to set an example as professional footballers. It is important to set the right example, make the right moves and show them the right way. It is important to display how things work in the professional football world.
After three friendlies, how do you see your new team shaping up? What do you think of the Indians in the side?
The team is improving. The last two games were much better than the first. The team is working very hard, they (the Indians) have a lot of will-power and giving all they have got. They are all listening to the coach (Franco Colomba). The coach is finding different solutions everyday. He is working on the tactical as well as technical aspects very minutely. We are getting ready for the first game.
What do you think of your experience in India so far?
Speaking of lifestyle, I have not got a chance to visit the city. We train morning and evening. We are always shuttling between hotel to ground. It is a world apart from Europe, and observing life in general has been a very good experience and something that I am enjoying.
You are the marquee player of the club. Do you feel the pressure of expectations?
No, I do not. This is a very important cultural and sporting experience. European football is now at its peak and we know that we are ambassadors of European football. We also know how to transmit this to Indian football. There is a will to win the championship and there is not really pressure because I back myself completely and I know I am still good enough to score goals.
What are your observations on the technical know-how and skill of Indian players?
According to me, Indian players have a lot of will-power and this ability to learn will definitely put them on the right track. One day the Indians will jump to the European levels and to the levels that count. This will take time. The mentality needs to be right, but the potential to do so is there. The technical knowledge is present here and they have to put their head down and work towards it.