I am a part of ISL to inspire Indian youngsters: Freddie Ljungberg

Arsenal and Swedish legend Freddie Ljungberg, who will be plying his trade for ISL franchise Mumbai City FC, on Wednesday said he wanted to play in the new football league to inspire youngsters and help them.

I am a part of ISL to inspire Indian youngsters: Freddie Ljungberg

Mumbai: Arsenal and Swedish legend Freddie Ljungberg, who will be plying his trade for ISL franchise Mumbai City FC, on Wednesday said he wanted to play in the new football league to inspire youngsters and help them.

"They contacted me when I was in England. They came to us with a great project. They said in India a lot of young people want to play football but it is very difficult to find the facilities to train, there is not so many room and not many football pitches and wanted it to grow," Ljungberg told reporters here.

"They asked if I could come and inspire younger people, even if I don't play any premiership now, at one stage I won titles and maybe we can inspire the younger players. I will try to do that and at the same time try to win the trophy for Mumbai and play as well as we can," he added.

The Swede who had retired from the game a couple of years back said he has kept himself fit by doing martial arts five times a week. The Mumbai marquee player opined that the games could be slow paced compared to the English Premier League due to the hotter climate.

"When we were in America, I think we were in Houston where it was like 40 degrees and 80 per cent humidity. So it was hot in certain places in America. Of course, it is hot here but you have got to adapt and sometimes if you compare it with premiership, the games would be slower because it is so much hotter but that is something that the players have to adapt to," Ljungberg, who played for Seattle Sounders FC in the Major League Soccer said.

The 37-year old said he has been impressed by the commitment of the owners and said it is a great start to the new project. "We are playing it so tight. We are playing a lot of games in a very short space of time. For me, at least the commitment that the owners have done is something that is amazing and it gives a good foundation to get it work.

"If you look at the staff what they are trying to put it together for their players, the professionalism is amazing. For me, that is a great start and if we can play some good football... I think it is important the players interact and help," he said. Asked if he would be back next season, Ljungberg was non-committal and said, "we haven't agreed. They asked me but I said I would be here now and then we will see."

Mumbai Coach Peter Reid said he has been impressed with the Indian players, particularly goal keeper Subrata Paul and mid-fielder Lalrindika Ralte. 

"The goalkeeper is a good goalkeeper. He has got the experience at the back. We have got Lalrindika Ralte, who has come with a left foot. I have only seen him twice and I am thinking what a good player. He has got spring, he has got good left foot, he has got energy. He looks a decent player," Reid who has previously coached Manchester City and Sunderland among others said.

He said the Indian players have a good opportunity to learn from the top international players. "I have been with the lads for a week and I am still sort of assessing but what I have been pleased is with the atmosphere. We are all mixing together. I have got to say I have been impressed with the quality and certainly the Indian boys, in relation to an international duty, so that speaks volumes.

"I think when you play with better players, you can still learn off top players. They have got together as a squad and group and that can only be good for Indian players," he said.

Reid added that the team has enough quality to put up a good show. "You don't go into a competition and not want to win it. It is going to be tough. We know everybody else would be trying to win it but I think we have got enough quality to go in there and put on a good display," he said adding that the captain of the team will be an Indian.