For me it is always good to meet Indian footballers here in Germany, but that sadly happens rarely. A few weeks ago Dempo midfielder Godwin Diogo Franco contacted me by saying he is Cologne and wanted to meet. I thought great and wanted to meet-up to speak football, especially Indian football. Sadly that is something I can't do too often...
Due to work commitments on my side we could only meet up last week and it was an interesting afternoon talking about Indian football and hearing of Godwin's experiences here in Germany. He was really excited and fascinated to have been here and witness the football culture, the love for the game and the infrastructure.
Godwin and I spoke at length. Also I did ask him about his time here in Germany, his impressions of the country and its football plus more. Here a very personal interview...
How was it to see the German football culture?
Very Impressive! A country that has always done well at the world stage; has the most competitive league in the world; their youth structure, one of the best in the world; that speaks volumes of footballs role in Germany. Here football is so methodical, right from your early days in your backyard to the world stage. Everyone gets a chance at it and is encouraged at every level be it school, college and so on. There are so many clubs with everyone having youth teams, where emphasis are laid on the most important aspects of the game. Radical and efficiency is the German code!
What impressed you the most?
The passion of the people towards the sport... I played this match where the players of the lower league clubs had a match amongst themselves for fun, in which I scored two goals and we won. After the match a guy who was watching the game came up to me, when I was leaving for home, and asked me what jersey I was wearing. I said Dempo SC from India, we have won the league the most number of times back in India and we play at continental Asian club level too. He was like 'wow' and wanted to know more about the club and Indian football which I eventually answered. And as you will know better then me, this has happened on several occasions when I was introduced as a footballer from India during my holidays. They all wanted to know more about football in India.
How was it to train with a lower division German club?
As I was on a holiday I wanted to maintain my fitness level so one of my German friends hooked me up to train with a lower division side as he knew a player from the team. I want to be ready for the coming season with Dempo SC. It was a great experience!
Everything is very efficient and methodical at training, right from the locker room to the pitch and back, the standard is very good at all the levels as the guys have got their basics intact. The coach was a former 1.FC Cologne youth coach and a scout, a spotter for Bayer 04 Leverkusen before and was very impressed by my style of play.
You were to speak to Robin Dutt so I could train with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with Michael Ballack & co, but time did not permit as I had to leave for India as Dempo training was to commence.
Maybe next time around we'll organise that...
What do you hope and expect of the new season?
Well Dempo's did well last season, only the hectic schedule took a toll on the players where the I-League was concerned. I did well for myself last season, so I am looking forward for the new season. I want to give my best as always again this season for my club and get into the Indian team.
How was it to spend your holiday's in Europe?
I had a great holiday! Germany is an awesome place and so are the Netherlands and Belgium. I travelled around a lot of places and did many outdoor activities ice skiing, water skiing, super-bike riding, and a lot more.