'Learned a lot from ISL'
Bangladesh captain Mamunul Islam believes the time he spent with Atletico de Kolkata will stand him in good stead even though did not feature for a single minute for the recently-crowned champions of the inaugural Indian Super League.
The 27-year-old midfielder, who wrapped up his two-and-a-half month stint with the Kolkata franchise to resume training with Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club on Sunday, felt that sharing the dressing room with players like Luis Garcia, Josemi and Borja Fernandes and words of encouragement from Saurav Ganguly makes him want to be a part of the ISL again.
“I have learned a lot from ISL, including the struggle and rebound and maintaining fitness, which I think will good for my career,” the Sheikh Jamal DC skipper told reporters after a training session at the club premises yesterday. “I will surely go there again if I'm called. I think if I can play, more opportunities will arise for our younger players in such leagues.”
Despite being included in the team squad in two matches, Mamunul was never given the chance to prove his worth to the wider audience of the ISL. While he did feel a bit resented over the coaching staff, Mamunul explained how he had people in the dressing room to give him the will to fight.
“Though we didn't have any personal interactions with the coaches apart from training sessions, my teammates encouraged me in difficult times. Especially Josemi, he told me that he himself went through such tough times after switching from Liverpool to Villarreal. Despite playing well for Liverpool, Josemi had to sit out matches at Villarreal, but he told me he never gave up hope,” Mamunul fondly recalled.
The Bangladesh skipper believes the basic difference between ISL and the Bangladesh Premier League, apart from some of the big name European players, is the power and pace of football.
“I think we have high-standard training methods being applied here thanks to (Maruful Haque) Maruf bhai, (Saiful Bari) Titu bhai, (Shafiqul Islam) Manik bhai. The basic difference though is the power and pace of the game. There are other aspects such as crowd and projection of games which make our leagues less attractive,” opined the creative midfielder.
The one-of-a-kind midfielder in Bangladesh football, who operates as a creative source of short passes as well as defence-splitting through balls and chips, feels he is learning football every day, by watching the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandes on TV and well as reading about the game.
“I watch a lot of matches on TV and read books which Maruf bhai gave me. I read what a midfielder should be doing. I try to understand that. Every team has its own style of football and so has every individual player. For example, (Andrea) Pirlo plays long balls while Xavi (Hernandez) thrives on short passes. I try to learn the best of them,” ended Mamunul.