Thursday, 13 June 2013

Interview with Zohib Islam Amiri (Afghanistan/ex-Mumbai FC)

26 year old Zohib Islam Amiri is not only an Afghanistan international footballer, but he has played his recent club football in the Indian I-League for Mumbai FC. At the FPAI organised Indian Football Awards 2013 on May 23, 2013 in Mumbai Amiri was handed the 'Fan's Player of the Year' award. We spoke to him about the award, his time in India and how he feels living there.

Amiri was voted as by the Indian football fans as 'Fan's Player of the Year' ahead of Lenny Rodrigues (Churchill Brothers, India), Lalrindika Ralte (East Bengal Club, India), Lalkamal Bhowmick (Prayag United SC, India), James Joseph Saeed Moga (Pune FC, South Sudan), Carlos Hernández Valverde (Prayag United SC, Costa Rica) and Izumi Arata (Pune FC, India).

Congratulations on winning the FPAI 'Fans Players of the Year' award! What does this award mean to you personally and Afghanistan football?

Thanks a lot. It means a lot for me, then it is an honour for me to win this award and for Afghanistan this is the first time that any one from the country wins an award like this. It is a great achievement for me and also for Afghanistan!

What have your people back home in Afghanistan said about you winning the FPAI 'Fans Players of the Year' award in India?

Since I came back home to Kabul everyone is talking about this achievement. Everyone is very happy, from the smallest child to 100 years old men and women. This award means a lot to the Afghan people!

You thanked the fans, your fellow footballers on stage at the awards in perfect Hindi. You seem to have adopted easily to life in India. Is that true?

It's true that I thanked the fans for the award in Hindi. For me the easy thing is that I adopted very easily in India. I have said this before and I also saying it now again – India is like my home, I love India a lot and the Indian people mean a lot to me!

As an Afghan are you accepted in India or are there people who are sceptical of you?

Yes, as an Afghan footballer they have accept me!

What does life in Mumbai mean to you?

Life in Mumbai means a lot to me because in the last two years I am a Mumbaikar playing with Mumbai FC. I made a lot of friend, some I would even call family there and they became really close to me. I already miss them a lot.

When you first were approached to join Mumbai FC what did you know about the I-League and Indian football? What is your opinion of Indian football now?

I did not know anything about India and the Indian I-League before I came, but started to learn about it when I came to play with my Kabul Bank team against Air India to Mumbai for a friendly match. After that I got to know everything about Indian football and I tried to make myself a part of this league. For me joining Mumbai FC was a dream come true.

Your contract with Mumbai FC has ended. Would you like to stay in India or move somewhere else?

Yes, my contract is now finished with Mumbai FC and I would love to stay in India, but I am also looking at options in Oman and Bahrain. Still my first option is to stay and continue to play in India.

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