'The next powerhouse of world football' - Erik Paartalu backs Tim Cahill's move to India

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Tim Cahill/ Erik Paartalu
The Socceroos legend will join another Aussie that's adapted quickly to life in the ISL

Few players can rival Tim Cahill's globetrotting club career, but fellow Australian Erik Paartalu is one of them and he believes the retiring Socceroo has found the perfect place to end his distinguished playing career.

Paartalu has been testing the waters of Indian football over the past year representing Bengaluru FC and has quickly warmed to the sub-continent.

After a career that's seen him play in Australia, China, Thailand, South Korea and Qatar, the 32-year-old has been pleasantly surprised by his time in India and recently signed a contract extension until the end of 2020.

"After my first couple of months I did really well and had a few offers to go to other countries in Asia, but again another problem could be around the corner," Paartalu told Goal.

"I couldn’t guarantee that I could be looked after as well as I have been at this club. If they’re going to commit for two years, then I’m willing too as well.

"I’ve found a club that feels almost like a family - it’s a nice feeling to have that in Asia because it’s taken so many times for me to get it right. It’s giving me everything I wanted in terms of security and I don’t ever feel like I’m going to be done over like at some other clubs in Asia."

Erik Paartalu

Despite his own positive experience to date in the country, stigma continues to surround Indian football with some skeptical of Cahill's decision to play there.

Paartalu however stresses just how good his experience has been and that the ISL has turned a corner. 

"Everyone thinks coming to India that it’s a drop in standard or professionalism, but world football these days is pretty much the same the world over," he said. 

"This is the next big thing in the football world, particularly in Asia. If you go back five years when the ISL started, it was a bit of a gimmick with guys that were two or three years retired coming back and playing in the league just getting a payday. Where now if you look across the board you’ve got players at a very good level. You’ve got mid-level foreigners at a good enough age that are hungry to perform.

"The Indian players have certainly benefitted from having foreign players and coaches around. India’s national team ranking is going up every year so that shows you football is going in the right direction."

From trips to North Korea and Turkmenistan, Paartalu's first year in India has been eventful and largely successful as Bengaluru finished the ISL season first before ultimately the losing the final.

Erik Paartalu

Back in training for his second season in India, the midfielder is excited to welcome a fellow Aussie to the league and believes Cahill's arrival can further legitimise the ISL. 

"Now when you’ve got someone like Tim Cahill playing in India, albeit at the end of his career, people are starting to take this region seriously. Because they should, it’s going to be the next powerhouse of world football," he said. 

"I think it’s a great signing. For a guy at his level it’s probably the right time to come. He’s not a guy that’s been retired for three years, he was playing at a World Cup recently.

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"Tim Cahill talks the talk. He turns up everywhere he goes. He’s successful, brings crowds and you only have to look at Melbourne City, scoring that amazing goal in the derby…he always produces when he has to.

"I think India will suit him because the crowds and the clubs will get a buzz when they see his trademarks headers.

"It’s great to have another Aussie playing here because it attracts another audience to the league."