Mumbai: New I-League outfit Bharat FC has signed their second international player, defender Robert 'Bobby' Hassell, for the 2014-15 season commencing on January 17, 2015.
The 34-year-old player would join the Pune-based club, owned by Kalyani Group, from Barnsley FC, England, the club announced on Tuesday. Hassell can play in a variety of positions across defence and the midfield.
Beginning his career at Mansfield Town in the '97-98 season, he made 164 appearances for his club scoring three goals.
In 2004, Hassell moved to Barnsley FC where he blossomed, going on to make 270 appearances over a ten-year stint from 2004-2014, netting eight goals as well, besides leading the club in 2011-12.
He can operate at right-back as well as centre-back and has also been deployed in a holding midfield role. Hassell earned a name for himself with his consistent performances in his first full season for Barnsley FC in 2004-2005.
Kunal Agarwal, Director at Bharat FC, said that it was Hassell's experience and versatility as a player that made the club sign him. "Bobby gives us a lot of options with his proficiency in both defence and midfield. He has over 450 appearances to his name in England and the youngsters at the club can definitely learn a lot from him. His calm nature and inspirational presence will also be invaluable as we aim to start strongly in our first season," he said.
Club's head coach Stuart Watkiss believes that with Hassell's addition, the team had a defensive fulcrum around which he could construct his squad.
"I have seen Bobby play in the Championship for ten years on a very consistent basis. There is no question about his quality. After having spent so much time at a very high level, I believe that he can transfer a lot of knowledge to the younger players in the team.
"Bobby's vast experience allows him to read the state of the game really well. With a very cool head on his shoulders, he will provide us the clarity of thought required to close out games," said Watkiss.
Hassell said when the chance to work with Watkiss came up, it was hard for him to say no. "I have worked with Stuart at Mansfield Town and I have complete faith in his coaching abilities. Bharat FC is a highly interesting project, one that provides me the chance to dabble in a bit of coaching as well. It allows me to explore a new part of the world and contribute towards building an exciting team," he said.