New Delhi: Elated at becoming the first Turkish international to join hands with ISL, former Stoke City forward Tuncay Sanli on Monday said that seeing top players deciding to ply their trade in India prompted him to join FC Pune City.
The 33-year-old Tuncay is part of a string of high-profile signings by the Hrithik Roshan co-owned team for season two of the Indian Super League. The Turkish is eager to rub shoulders with the club's top picks like Adrian Mutu, Didier Zokora and Nicky Shorey.
"This is a conscious decision, because I have been in contact with people here and India was in my mind over a year now. Also I have seen many good players going to India and it also had a positive effect on my decision making, which I have given consciously. I am going to be the first Turkish football player to go to India and I will cherish this as a very special position," Tuncay told PTI during an interaction.
"I am looking forward to be part of the team, because there are many players whom I know in person. The goalkeeper (Steve Simonsen) as well as Didier Zokora are the guys whom I have played with that's why I know the level of football is going to be top level and I am going to be ready for that challenge," he added.
He played an instrumental role in Fenerbahce's three Super Lig title-winning campaigns.
Even though Pune ended last in the inaugural edition, which was won by Atletico de Kolkata, Tuncay has faith in the team's potential.
"I know the potential of Pune FC as a team and I know they have all the good qualities to be successful in the league. And with David Platt at the helm, whom I have known for a long time, it has been a good decision to come here because I know that Pune FC have good ambitions for football in India.
"With the new signings and with Platt's direction, the team will go in the right direction and at the end of the season hopefully it will be a success story and I will be a part of it," he said.
Boasting of 150 club goals during his stay at Middlesboroug, Fenerbahce and Stoke City, Tuncay is keen to live up to his reputation.
"All that high level experience has provided me a very very good experience and knowledge. I have been trained to put my one hundred per cent on the pitch and to show that the tag which is on me right now, it's not for nothing.
"So I am going to prove that the team can rely on me. I will do my best and show hopefully we will script a good chapter in Pune FC's history," he said.
After plying his trade in EPL, Tuncay moved to the Qatar league with Umm Salal FC, and is now happy with his Indian move. Tuncay is keen to explore the Indian football culture.
"I think of myself as a professional player and have played for Middlesborough, Fenerbache and Stoke City at a very high level. I have also played for Qatar league and now in India, which are developing countries in footballing terms. I like new challenges and I believe India will pose one such challenge.
"And it is a new chapter in my professional and life and I am eager to showcase my skills and learn something from the Indian football culture," he said.
Not too worried about approaching the mid-thirties club as a sportperson, the fit-as-ever player believes that age is just a number.
"I look after myself and take care of myself and as a professional I stay fit all the time. Age is just a number and I still have things to prove and skills to show that's why I don't consider what will come after three or four years. My next step is to provide all the talent and skill I have for my team. So my aim is to play well in the upcoming
Indian Super League season," he signed off.