ISL 2018-19: Inigo Calderon backs Eli Sabia to fill Henrique Sereno void at Chennaiyin FC

Inigo Calderon Chennaiyin FC FC Pune City ISL 4 2017/2018
The former Alaves defender also manifested of his infatuation to push himself in an attacking role

Inigo Calderon was deservedly awarded the Indian Super League (ISL) 'Fittest Player of the League' gong last year. At the age of 36, it is a testament to Calderon's commitment to fitness. 

The right-back clocked 1800 minutes in the 20 appearances out of his side's 21 games last season and helped the Marina Machans lift their second ISL title. Now, Calderon is targetting defending the title, he revealed in an exclusive chat with Goal.

"When I decided to come to India (in 2017), they (Chennaiyin FC) were the ones who opened the door for me. As soon as they told me to renew my contract, it was easy for me because if you are happy in a place, you don't need to change. We tasted some success as well and it's a big challenge now to retain the title because no one has done it yet," he stated.

Sharing his mantra on keeping fit at his age, he said, "It's all about hard work but you cannot start when you are 30 years old and you realise that you're getting older. That's too late. You have to start very early.

GFX Inigo Calderon quote on keeping fit

"I remember when I was already 18 or 19, I looked after myself a lot. During the summer period, I used to train hard and in the invisible part of the training (when you are at home) - how you behave, what you eat, how many hours you sleep and when - I tried to do that well. Mentally, it was quite good to have something to do besides football.

"I don't think there is any magic or luck in football. You have to work very hard and in every training session, you have to push yourself a lot. That's the only way you can expand a short career in football."

The Spaniard also contributes a lot in attack as well, with three goals to his name last season.

"As for me playing as an attacking player, I like football," he continued. "If they want me to play just at the back, it's going to be a problem because I don't enjoy it as much. I don't understand football like that. Obviously, I need help from my teammates to cover me when I go up and they know that already that it is something (playing attacking football) I like a lot."

Meanwhile, Calderon has backed Brazilian defender Eli Sabia, who had a stint with Chennaiyin FC in 2016, to fill in the void left by Henrique Sereno who had played an important role in the club's 2017-18 season title-winning run.

"He (Sereno) is going to be a huge miss. He was our captain and a special character for us, not just on the pitch but as well as off the pitch. Now we have Eli (Sabia). He knows us well in the league and that's important. He's not a new player. Obviously, we have more players who will try to keep doing the same. We learnt a lot from him (Sereno). We will always remember him with a smile on our face and now we have to move forward," he commented.