Exclusive interview with John Arne Riise - 'ISL could become the most attended league in 10 years'

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Bengaluru, Oct 17: Defending Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC roped in former Liverpool and AS Roma defender John Arne Riise this season as their marquee player.

Full schedule of ISL 2016; Full list of squads for ISL 2016

The versatile Norwegian star, who was a part of the Delhi Dynamos side last season, replaced Brazilian midfielder Elano Blumer as the team's marquee player.

John Arne Riise (Image courtesy: Chennaiyin FC)

Speaking to OneIndia, Riise pointed out how Indian football has improved since the inception of the ISL. He further spoke about His most memorable moment in his football career and favourite teammates.

Q: John, this is your second stint in India, tell us about your association and experience with Indian football.

John: Last year everything in India was unknown to me. This time, I am better prepared and I also see improvement on all fronts whether its organisation, quality of football and most importantly standard of Indian players.

Q: After Roberto Carlos, this season you are working under Marco Materazzi, tell us about your journey so far with Chennaiyin FC.

John: After speaking to Marco it was very easy to make my decision because I had a lot of respect for him as a player. He is a winner and aggressive on the pitch but off the pitch a very nice guy. It has been great working under him.

Q: Which Indian youngster/youngsters according to you have a bright future?

John: We are very lucky to have some of the best Indian players in the league. I think Jeje and Jayesh have a lot of talent and go a long way if they keep working hard. Wadoo who is already very experienced has also impressed me.

Q: Defending champions Chennaiyin have had a mixed start to the season. What do you make out of the team's performance so far?

John: I think the first game we played well and did well to turn it around after conceding, although we were disappointed to concede a late equaliser. The second game against Delhi was a very bad day for us and I think the whole squad realised that it is going to be tougher this year. Thankfully in football you have the next game to bounce back and we did that against Goa. Tactically we played a perfect game, were aggressive. It was a good team performance.

Q: What is your take on Indian Football and where do you see India in the next 10 years?

John: ISL is already the third most attended league and I think it could become the biggest attended and viewed in 10 years because I think more and more fans are coming and watching games and more players from abroad are also showing interest to come to the league. Hopefully the league will keep growing, get longer and of course, the national team also needs to get better. Money is also important to attract more quality players but also overall how they are taken care of is also important. So far I have been very happy to be here and I expect the league to get better every year.

Q:What is your take on the current format of the ISL? Do you think the country should have unified and longer league?

John: Yes, we are all hearing that it could be a longer league but you know it's very important to make sure that it is not too long and too big either because right now there are 8 teams, it is very competitive. That is one quality the league should not lose in the long run.

Q: What do you think about the current Liverpool team? Do you think they can win the title this year?

John: Before the season I was hoping for top 4 but they have made a good start and have already played some tough games and done well in it. I think and hope they will challenge for the title but this year may be too soon for them to be champions. Man City look the strongest.

Q: Tell us about your opinion on Jurgen Klopp and the transformation of the Liverpool side in the last 1 year.

John: I was very happy when he signed. He is the type of manager Liverpool needed. He is passionate, hard working and loved by the fans and players not only for the results but the style of play and his personality on and off the pitch.

Q: Which was the most memorable moment of your Liverpool career, also your overall football career?

John: Istanbul 2005

Q: Who is your favourite player of all time?

John: Steven Gerrard and Francesco Totti are the two best players I have played with

Q: Who is your current favourite player?

John: Lionel Messi

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