Mumbai: Indian footballer Syed Rahim Nabi is all set to realise his dream of playing alongside his heroes, Frederik Ljungberg and Nicolas Anelka, as a team member of Mumbai City FC, one of the franchises in the Indian Super League commencing next week.
"I have played football for so many years, if you see the players in the team like Frederik Ljungberg, (Nicolas) Anelka, Manuel Friedrich, it is our dream to play with them. We have never played before (with them). I have only seen them play," said Nabi during a media interaction here.
"I am a big fan of Anelka and Ljungberg. I still can't believe I am practising with them or talking to them on the ground. With the foreigners playing alongside the Indian players, Indian football will definitely improve," he said.
ISL is to kick off on October 12 with the opening game between Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC scheduled in Kolkata.
The 28-year old Nabi said the first match would be tough for all the players.
"The first match is always tough. No matter how many competition matches you play, the first match is always tough for everyone," he said.
Nabi said there was bound to be a difference in standard between the Indian and foreign players who have played in the big leagues.
"You have to acknowledge that they have played in big leagues and are coming here. Anelka and others have played for top clubs. They don't have to teach us football, but we want to learn their touches, the passing of the ball...Those things. If they speak to us, that itself is a big thing for us," he said, adding that ISL was a huge opportunity for players like him.
Nabi was part of the initial pool of 40 players recruited when there was a bit of uncertainty over the League getting underway.
Recalling that phase he said, "Some were saying it was a bad decision that I went there, now they are thinking I did the right thing by signing. I want to reply by playing and not by talking. I want to play on the field."
Asked if the I-League should be merged with the ISL, the versatile footballer said, "What have we got from I-League till now? If you see, the live telecast is not always there. This (ISL) will be shown on five channels, this is good for football.
"I am not belittling anyone, but for the young generation, if they see this, only then they will come. This is the main thing and nothing else."