Goal.com's Player of the Month, Pune FC's Arata Izumi, believes that the club is the most professional one in India...First of all, Arata, how does it feel to be named Player of the Month on Goal.com India, the first time we are naming any such player?
Oh this is a great feeling, and I must thank all of you at Goal.com. I'm very happy about it ever since I got to know. Hopefully I can keep performing this way, and do even better.
It's been a remarkable turnaround for Pune FC in January, with four wins out of four, a run matched by no other team in the league this season. What do you put this down to?
I think luck has had a huge part to play in it. Not to say that we've been very lucky this month, but that we were unlucky at times earlier on. We missed some simple chances and conceded a few silly goals, despite dominating matches even against the big teams.
We just needed that luck to change, and to win just one game, after which it would all be okay, and it came in the Federation Cup against Dempo. We learned how to win a game, and then after another win in the league, we gained a lot of confidence and got into the winning habit, so to say.
You've bagged yourself three goals in January, as well as an assist. Do you see yourself as a prolific goalscorer, or more as a creator of chances?
Football isn't all about scoring, according to me. I love scoring, but equally, I enjoy making chances for my teammates from which they can score. I play in midfield, as well as up front, so I like to think of myself as a guy who can do many jobs on the pitch. Scoring or assisting depends totally on the situation.
You've played for big clubs like East Bengal and Mahindra before joining a relatively new one like Pune FC. What are the major differences you find there as a player, compared to the two big names mentioned?
East Bengal and Mahindra are big, established clubs, and people everywhere know about them. Pune on the other hand is new, but everyone at the club, the entire staff, is very passionate about it. While the two teams you mentioned are already big, Pune are growing and improving at the moment.
Also, the club is very professional in the way it is operated. Of course there are other clubs in India, like Dempo, Mohun Bagan etc, whom I haven't played for, but for me, Pune FC is the most professionally run club in India.
How has the city been for you? And how is it playing in front of big crowds for a change?
Oh it's so nice to play in front of a big crowd! Every footballer relishes playing in front of passionate fans, and that's what is happening here. It makes all of us want to perform better all the time.
As for the city, it's been very easy for me to settle here. Pune is a very nice city with warm people, and the weather is just perfect, not too cold, and not too hot. I'm loving Pune, actually.
On seeing you play, many Pune fans, and Indians all over are wondering if you could don India's colours anytime in the near future, since you are registered as a PIO (Player of Indian origin). What would you say to that?
(Laughs) Well, that's very nice to hear. Of course, if I get the chance, I would love to give it a try. It won't just be my decision, though, as I'll have to discuss this with family and friends. But yes, if I am wanted, and I get an offer, I will give it a deep thought. I've been here for quite a while now, so India does feel like home to me.
Your coach Derrick Pereira has been named Manager of the Month on Goal.com India. You've worked with him before at Mahindra as well. How would you say is the relationship between the two of you?
First of all, I'm so happy for him that his good work has been recognized, and he deserves it completely. The team is doing well, and it's down to him, as after all, he is our coach.
I've worked with him for three years now, so I know him well, and he knows me well, which helps us a lot and makes it easy. On the ground, he is my coach and I'm his player, but off it, we're good friends as well and share a warm relationship.
Pune have imposed themselves on the league this year, in what is just their first season in the top flight, and should go on to bigger and better things. Do you think you'll be here in the years to come?
Well, of course. I love this club, the fans, and Pune as a city, and if I keep getting the chance to play for the Reds, I would love to continue doing so.
Thanks for your time Arata, and all the best for the games to come.