Mumbai: Spanish star and member of the 2010 World Cup winning squad Joan Capdevila feels that a chance to play for the NorthEast United in the upcoming cash-rich Indian Super League (ISL) starting next month will enable to guide the young Indian players with his oodles of experience.
"I have played in top football leagues across the world like Spanish and Portuguese, the main reason is to join a new challenge that is growing up and I want to help this growth. With my experience, I want to help the budding talent of India to grow, by teaching them and guiding them," Capdevila told reporters here.
"I am really grateful to NorthEast United to give me this opportunity to join this new challenge for the whole country. I hope to bring my experience here to help NorthEast to grow and ISL to grow as well. I am in the last leg of my career and wanted to come and enjoy myself," said Capdevila, who has spent his best years at La Liga clubs like Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and Espanyol apart from turning up for Athletico Madrid on 31 occasions.
Capdevila is the last person to arrive for the Guwahati franchise and the ISL club's co-owner John Abraham said the team would play three friendly matches in Goa before returning to Guwahati for training.
"We are already training. Capdevila leaves day after tomorrow for Goa. We have got three friendly matches in Goa and we are going to be there for eight days. On the 2nd, we go back to Guwahati and we start training there. So we are very excited," Abraham said.
The celebrated left-back, who had 60 international appearances for the national side, said that the ISL is a different format from the other leagues and is a good start for India that is ranked 158 in the world.
"This is very different from other leagues. In India, it is just starting and this is a very nice beginning. It is a very nice project which is going to be for a lot of years. Indian football is going to grow and would call a lot of attention of other players for sure. It is a nice project for the future to be put like a league for the whole year. After many years, it is going to be the main league of India for sure," he said.
Actor-producer Abraham believes that the ISL could be an eight or nine month league in the future like EPL and La Liga.
"We feel that this is an incubation league. This is to quickstart the interest of football in the country. We are looking at a very long term vision, that we believe that this two-and-half month league would probably at some point be an eight month or nine month league.
"Maybe it could merge with the premier league or it could be the Premier League. I believe that the ISL will become a seven or eight month league, given a gestation period of three to five years," Abraham observed.
Asked if opting for overseas players who are past their prime is the right approach to sustain the league in the long run, Abraham said it would help in the short run to get the interest generated.
"Initially, it would help. It is very important to get players with that kind of experience on board. Having players like Capdevila and other marquee players, it will help. I think it will help in the short run initially to spark off the interest and be a catalyst but in the long run of course we need to re-strategise and understand what we need to do," he said.
"As far as NorthEast United is concerned, we are very clear that our focus is young domestic players. As of today, we have the youngest team in the ISL by five years. And we will make sure by next year, we will be a far younger team," he added.