In his only exclusive interview given after he parted ways with Bagan, Tolgay spoke his heart out about a plethora of issues....Tolgay Ozbey was visibly relieved after he was released by the Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. The Australian striker had joined the Mariners on a two year deal last summer from their arch rivals East Bengal. The transition was anything but smooth, as it saw reciprocal mudslinging from both the sides. The honeymoon with the new outfit has not been longstanding, as the new recruit could not deliver as per expectation, much to the agony of the Green and Maroon faithful.
“I would have earned (INR) 1.7 crore if I continued playing for Bagan this season. I am a professional footballer and I concede that the paycheck does matter. But the most important thing is the support from the officials. That thing became missing,” Tolgay vented his disappointment at the men in power of Mohun Bagan.
The rumuor is that Tolgay has got a compensation amount of INR30 lakhs for agreeing to a release from Bagan.
“I don’t know how these stories come up. The amount is definitely concocted by the media. Yes, there was a mutual agreement between the club and me. I will like to honour that and not disclose its terms,” he informed.
When asked what actually went wrong with the Green and Maroon, the Aussie striker informed that the two top officials who had taken a major role to sign him for the Mariners were not there to help him out in his troubled times. Though he refused to take any names, it was evident from the sources of Maidan that the alleged officials are Anjan Mitra and Debashish Dutta, the general and financial secretaries respectively.
Sources close to Tolgay claimed that he had even tried to contact Mitra a couple of times in the last few days, but there was no reply from the other side. Meanwhile Dutta had chose to resign from his esteemed position.
Tolgay had a very good stint with East Bengal, his first club in India. Under the tutelage of Trevor James Morgan, he managed to score 66 goals in 95 appearances with a whooping strike rate of 0.69 goals per match.
The striker, who had represented his country in the U-23 level only in the age of 20, remarked that the injury in the first half of the season with Bagan took its toll. “The injury was a nagging one. I had to go back to Australia to get it fixed. It cost me 6-to-7 weeks midway into the season. I am happy with my performance after coming back, as I have scored 10 goals in 15 I-League matches when the team was fighting to save relegation. I am satisfied that it ended in a happy note at least,” he said.
Though Tolgay has agreed terms with Mohammedan Sporting and will sign for them after discussion with his family, he insisted that he will miss the colleagues and the supporters of Bagan.
“I like the teammates I have spent a year with. Especially I would miss Nirmal Chettri, the only player I have spent three seasons together. Also, friends like Syed Nabi, Arindam Bhattacharya, Quinton Jacobs, Jonathan will be missed. The fans were also very supportive as they backed the team in the tough situations.”
However, Tolgay avoided the tricky question on his friendship with Odafa tactfully, saying that “Odafa is a great striker. But one cannot be best friends with all 40 players of the team.”
For the first time, Tolgay also sounded apologetic to the East Bengal supporters after having agreed terms with Bagan on the evening of 14th May last year, only hours after winning the Kolkata league for the Red and Gold.
“That (the timing of the announcement) was not something of my choice. I was made to do so by the Mohun Bagan officials,” Tolgay clearly stated.
The Australian however, is keen to concentrate on his next season. “I have been in Kolkata for the last three years and would like to continue here. I also had offers from Tokyo and Australia, but my choice is to play for an Indian club. I hope to make amends in the next season,” he signed off.