Dudu Omagbemi, the Nigerian striker who has joined East Bengal on a one-year deal, claimed that his wish to change base from Goa to Kolkata coupled with the enthusiasm of the fans motivated him to sign for Armando Colaco's side.
"East Bengal is a big team and everyone wants to play for such a side. I joined them because I wanted to make a change from Goa. I have played for so many years there before I moved abroad. Playing in the AFC Cup is not the motivation, though it will be nice to see how the tournament is like.The fans have been the ones who motivated me to come and play for the team," Dudu told Goal.
The forward had played under the tutelage of Armando Colaco in Dempo back in 2002, when he was loaned to the Golden Eagles from Sporting Clube de Goa. Dudu still has memories from that stint.
"Armando was a great coach back then. His style of playing and training was different. It was amazing with such quality players he had got before I joined them. He is a coach who wants to win all the games and a coach who understands and reads the game well," he mentioned.
The former Salgaocar player also sounded excited on the prospect of playing alongside Leo Bertos and Ranti Martins. He also informed that he has already spoken to New Zeland international Chris James to know about Leo Bertos. Dudu and Chris were teammates in Finnish side Kuopion Palloseura in 2012-13 season.
"I remember East Bengal have always been getting great foreign players. Leo Bertos has played with my former team-mates in the New Zealand National team. My friend Chris James has told me a lot about him. On the other hand, Ranti Martins is a complete player who has been doing really well in all the seasons he has played. He had played under Armando for ages in Dempo and now reunited again with his former coach. It will be interesting working with both these guys and whoever else is coming in," he remarked.
Dudu had a lethal combination with Chidi Edeh during their Sporting Clube de Goa days but said it is no co-incidence that he is replacing the Nigerian at the Kolkata club.
"Well there is no co-incidence. I have played with Chidi Edeh in Sporting and we both had a great time there. He is such a special player and I am happy he has done really well for the team before he left East Bengal," he opined.
Like every new footballer making a move to the 'City of Joy,' Dudu is looking forward to the Kolkata derby.
"I surely can't wait to see how the derby will be like. Football is entertaiment and both the teams will try entertain their fans. I know derby is always a big game which I have been part of before when Wisla Krakow was playing against KS Cracovia. Both teams are based in the same city and stadiums are close to each other. Same thing goes for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, but the venue will be common here," he said.
However, it's unlikely that the player will come to the city before the first derby of the season is played on 31st July.
"I don't actually know when I am really coming down to Kolkata. It might be very soon or it might take a little more time," he answered from Finland when quizzed about his plans.
The Nigerian had come to India in 2001 and was happy recollecting memories from the early days.
"I really had great memories during my time there in India. Playing for Sporting was amazing as I had played with many great players like Jeremiah Chukwama, Chidi Edeh, Bayo Adewusi, Abdullateef Seriki, Bibiano Fernandes and many more great players whose names I could not mention here. And don't forget Clifford Chukwuma - the man who was behind the success of Sporting Clube De Goa. He was a great coach and I used in Europe all he had taught me. I have liked a few defenders that posed real problems for me then but I guess most of them have quit playing now. My top three defenders are Majekodunmi Majek, Stanley Colaco and Mahesh Gawli," he signed off.