Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) head coach and former England goalkeeper David James on Friday termed Sachin Tendulkar’s parting ways with the club as “shame in some ways”, adding that he is still in touch with the cricket legend.
“In some sense of course it’s a shame because you want everything to remain the same. Evolution does take place, people will go but football club will always survive,” James told reporters on the eve of their Indian Super League (ISL) opener against ATK at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here.
Tendulkar sold off his 20 per cent stakes in the team.
“He is one of the most wonderful men I’ve met in sporting world. We had a very honest conversation about principle and philosophies, human factor rather than just football. His name will always be linked with Kerala Blasters because this blasters is essentially his nickname, the coach said further.
“The (infrastructure) of the club is a thing of legacy that you leave behind not just the name. I’ve had conversations with him since he departed. I’ve had very good terms and wish him all the best,” said James.
Asked about the Kerala floods recently, James said the club has some plans to give back to the state adding he cannot spill the beans at the moment.
“The one thing I have fallen in love with since my first trip to India in 2014 is the spirit of the people in Kerala. I have loved India as a whole but being positioned in Kerala, the spirit of the state and fans is important,” James said.
“It’s a very difficult thing to say that we are going to try harder because the thing about Kerala spirit is the amount they try. We are very conscious of what happened as a football club,” the 48-year old former Liverpool goalkeeper said adding: “There will be some evidence beyond people turning out for football matches.”
Kerala this time, have among others, highly rated young keeper Dheeraj Singh, who performed well for India in the U-17 World Cup last year.
Dheeraj had attracted offers from clubs outside India. After a trial stint at Scottish club Motherwell FC, Dheeraj trained with English Premier Club Bournemouth before putting pen to paper with Kerala.
James though made it clear that the 17-year old might not get a game under him and has to prove his credentials in training in order to earn a first team spot.
“My expectations from him are same as any other. There is no guarantee that he will ever play any match for KBFC under me,” the head coach said.
Sitting beside James was club captain and India defender Sandesh Jhingan and when asked to react on the Indian Under-16 team making it to their maiden AFC Championship quarter-final, he said: “It’s a great achievement. I am following them. These are really good results and they have showed consistency. Everybody should back them. My best wishes to them.”
Kerala finished sixth last term and saw coach Rene Muelensteen being removed with James taking over midway.
The Kochi-based franchise finished runners-up twice, in 2014 and 2016.