Academies way to go for Indian football: Fowler

New Delhi: Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler feels that setting up of academies is the way to go for Indian football to raise its profile and says his former club is willing to help the country in this regard.

"You need talent to raise profile of the game and that can come from academies. We have a plan to set up an academy in Pune. Hopefully, this is not the only one in India. We will start with that but we may set up many others in future to help Indian football," Fowler said in a programme here.

"I'm amazed at knowing that Liverpool is the most followed club in India with 93 million fans. There is so much passion for football here. Hope some successful players come from India in future from these academies," said the former Liverpool striker and current brand ambassador of the English Premier League club.

Fowler, the fifth highest scorer in EPL with 163 goals in 375 appearances, was here at a programme to witness the signing of a partnership between smart mobile devices brand XOLO and Liverpool.

The agreement was signed at a press conference at Melwood Training Ground in Liverpool by Sunil Raina, Business Head XOLO and Olly Dale, Sales Director Liverpool FC. The event in Liverpool was shown live here.

Fowler rated Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world in current form and said he should win the World Footballer of the Year Award (Ballon d'Or) in the FIFA Awards ceremony in Zurich on January 13, ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery.

"I have a soft corner for Cristiano. I think he deserved to win the Ballon D'Or. He has been fantastic throughout the season," he said.

He, however, wants Messi to do well in the FIFA World Cup this year in Brazil.

"I want Messi to do well. He has not done well for his country in the World Cup. I just think he will have a big World Cup this time."

Fowler tipped current Liverpool striker Luis Suarez to overtake his all-time number of most goals for the club if the Uruguayan continue to play for the Reds.

"I feel Suarez is the current best EPL player. He can even get past my record of most Liverpool goals in the EPL if he continues to play for my club."

Asked about comparisons of Suarez with the likes of Cristiano and Messi, Fowler said, "The comparisons were more on current form. The likes of Messi have been in the top for some years.

"Messi has been struggling with injuries this season and even before his (Messi's) injury, Suarez was doing better. So I said Suarez was better than Messi this season."

He was also not happy with big clubs spending a lot of money on buying players.

"Football is business these days and you need to win matches and trophies. So you need good players and you have to spend money to buy players. But in a few years, say five years, there may be some changes in the system. It is always better to spend those money in academies," he said.

Liverpool FC Sales Director Olly Dale said that as of now there was no plans of pre-season tour to India.

"We would absolutely want to play in India. We have a tough job every year to get a right team to play against at a right country.

"We have been in Australia, Indonesia and Thailand for our pre-season tours and as of now, we don't have any plans to be in India. But we would want to happen that sometime soon," Dale said.

( Source : PTI )
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