Tendulkar wants to build a legacy for Indian football – James

The former England number one was lured by a chance to manage the Kerala Blasters in the new league...

David James stated that his decision to join Kerala Blasters, an Indian Super League (ISL) franchisee owned by Sachin Tendulkar and PVP Ventures, was the correct choice.

Goal had exclusively reported earlier of the former Manchester City custodian joining Kerala Blasters in a player-manager role.

He mentioned that it was the vision of the cricket legend which convinced him to pen a deal with the southern outfit.

“Five to six weeks ago, I had a conversation with Sachin Tendulkar. He told me his view, plan, dreams for Indian football. What a wonderful man. I am not the biggest cricket fan in the world, so I am not coming to India to see Sachin the cricketer but the football fan,” he told The Times of India.

“We had coffee and spoke a little about cricket and lots about football. He is a builder, has a dream and wants to build a legacy for Indian football. I am a builder myself and will strive to create opportunities for players to one day experience what I have in football,” he added.

On being asked as to why he preferred a move to India over to more lucrative options in the MLS or in the Middle East, he spoke of his desire to be a part of a new venture.

“I've never been lured by money. If there was an opportunity to go to America, what would I do? The MLS is becoming bigger and better but I am a builder. I hope my involvement with ISL will be the start of something great. I share Sachin's vision of creating something good for Indian football. We have a quiet plan but I cannot share it with you at the moment.”

He also brought up the point of India becoming a better footballing nation in the coming years and challenge the likes of Japan in Asia for supremacy in the continent.

“I think my involvement will help deliver the plan for Sachin and Kerala Blasters. I am eager to be involved. India, with its sheer size, needs to be challenging the likes of Japan and qualifying for the World Cup. Genuinely, I feel India has the opportunity. It can be the next force.”

The 43-year old believes that India needs to breed young talent and with the presence of a top league and grassroot programme, the future is bright for the 150th ranked nation.

“For Indian football to really work, it's about bringing through players and improving them. I am sure, in the long term, with the right league, right attraction and, more importantly, right development at the grassroot, India's ranking of 152 (150) will come down quickly.

“In Iceland, with a population of 3,24,000, they have a side that got knocked out in the World Cup playoffs. If they can produce a national team that almost qualified for the World Cup, I cannot understand why India cannot.”

The former Portsmouth custodian revealed that joining as a player-manager was another reason why he chose to join the Kerala Blasters.

“I love playing football. After Iceland , I thought maybe this is it; I won’t play anymore. When the opportunity to go to India landed, I said, hang on. I was training fine, I felt good and I was not embarrassing myself on the field. I've actually felt much better now. I told myself, if I go to India, it will not be just to play football. I could do that in England. The management side was very appealing and I have braced myself for a new culture.”