Having joined defending champions ATK at the Indian Super League (ISL) draft earlier this week, defender Ashutosh Mehta on has heaped praise on Kolkata and its football fans saying he always wanted to play in the eastern metropolis.
"It's a good move for me getting into a team who were champions last season. I always wanted to play in Kolkata and I'm aware of the challenges ahead. I will always work hard and keep my football simple," the 26-year-old full-back told IANS in an interview.
The Surat-born full-back also said playing in Kolkata will be exciting and there won't be any pressure keeping in mind the football crazy fans Kolkata have.
"Yes, people here love their football and what else does one player need when they have fans behind them. More than pressure I'm excited to play for the people of Kolkata and ATK," Mehta who was sold for Rs.45 lakh to the Kolkata-club in the ISL draft said.
Mehta, who won the I-League title with Aizawl FC in 2016 also said how he started playing football and thanked all his coaches.
"I come from a middle class family. I started playing football in my locality and then for college and everytinh started from there. As soon as I got in the Mumbai FC junior squad I wanted to play football for the senior team," the I-League winner said.
"I am thankful to all my coaches who helped me get here today," he added.
Mehta also praised former Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham and ex-Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood who have joined the Kolkata-club as their head coach and technical director respectively for the 2017 season.
"They are big names, they have won many trophies and have a champion mentality. I'm looking forward to learn as much as possible and do what the team needs me to do," Mehta who made his ISL debut with FC Pune City said.
The I-League champion also recalled his time with Aizawl FC and said the matches with Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan were crucial keeping in mind how big the oppositions were.
"It was a very important game for us and we knew we had to win it no matter what. We knew our strength and we played as a team through out the season," Mehta said.
"Bagan is a big team with big names so we had to be on top of our game and we were really proud and glad of the result at the end," he added.
Mehta who made 16 appearances for Mumbai City F.C in 2015 appreciated the support from the Aizawl FC fans.
"Well the people of aizawl did believe in us and after a few games we knew we could do it if we continue to play at the level we were playing. To be honest we won it and we are thankful," Mehta concluded.
(Samrat Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)