Mumbai: He had a stellar season in the last edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) for Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) where he scored five goals in 11 appearances. However, this time around Japanese born Indian footballer Arata Izumi has moved closer to the West coast where he’s set to ply his trade for FC Pune City in the third edition.
At a time when Indian football is going through a possible revamp where the premier I-League tournament may be terminated, Izumi, who had significant spells at Mahindra United and Pune FC hopes that the transformation helps Indian football in the future.
Quizzed about a likely overhaul and the 33-year-old midfielder says, “It’s too emotional for me to answer this because I have a huge attachment to the I-League. Whatever changes are happening should be good for Indian football.”
The AIFF sent out a strong signal that restructuring of the country’s league system was necessary to make the clubs commercially more viable. Secretary Kushal Das too endorsed the view but made it clear that proposals were not final and changes can be made after taking into account inputs and suggestions from the clubs and other stakeholders.
The Indian international renowned for his versatility was happy to rekindle his partnership with coach Antonio Habas, who managed to lure Izumi to the Stallions den.
Habas was the biggest reasons I decided to shift from ATK to Pune City. He has helped me in every way. His football is really simple and what I like about him is that he trusts me and allows me to play my natural game on the ground,” he pointed out.
Pune will always be a city of love for Izumi. It was here that he met his wife Shweta Manerikar, who was Pune FC’s physio while he was sweating it out in the I-League. “I found my wife here. You can’t be luckier than that, right?” he guffaws.
While the last two seasons have not been too great for the Hrithik Roshan co-owned side, Izumi, also known for his pace and mean left-foot believes the side is building up well.
Even last season, the team did really well in the initial part. ISL is a short league and one loss can affect you really bad. We’ve got set goals and my personal target will be the championship,” he asserted.
Izumi, whose Indian name is Neelkanth Khambolja, looks forward to a great season at home. With Habas backing him, Pune will hope this duo can turn the tide in their favour come this October....