Kerala Blasters FC will play in the Hero Indian Super League in October
English footballer of Indian origin, Michael Chopra, has confirmed his signing to Kerala Blasters FC, owned by Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, in the first season of the Hero Indian Super League starting October.
The ex-Newcastle United striker – who has also enjoyed spells at Cardiff City, Blackpool and Sunderland – has been announced as the latest star to play in the inaugural Indian Super League after he was released by Blackpool.
Chopra will join the likes of former Arsenal players Freddie Ljunberg & Robert Pires, ex-Liverpool forward Luis Garcia and ex-Juventus star David Trezeguet in signing to the franchise, which was launched by IMG-Reliance, STAR Sports and the All India Football Federation.
The team’s Head Coach, former England Goal Keeper, David James spoke to reporters at the ISL draft in Mumbai this morning and said, “To pick Michael first is a tremendous achievement for us. We’re glad to have a player with his experience in English football.”
“He wants to help in setting up academies and grow football in India as part of the Kerala Blasters legacy. I’m sure that with Chopra’s experience and enthusiasm he will certainly positively contribute to improving Indian football. He’s a great addition to a wonderful team.”
Ajay K Mahan from Michael’s agency SME International added: “This opportunity realises Michael’s goal to progress his football career and to reunite him with his Indian heritage which has been a desire of his for a few years. After a fantastic team effort we have ensured that he will now be part of the first ever tournament of its kind on Indian soil and we are delighted to have been instrumental in helping Michael achieve his lifetime ambition. We look forward to seeing him thrive in the ISL.”
European sides Atletico Madrid, Fiorentina and Feyenoord have all signed strategic partnerships with Super League clubs while Bollywood actors Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and John Abraham are team co-owners.
Indian cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are also among the co-owners of different franchises in the ISL, which Chopra hopes will help the league mirror the success of the Cricket IPL.
British Football Agent Baljit Rihal, who worked closely with SME International, said: “The interest from India has been phenomenal. Michael is well known amongst Indian football fans. He was the first player of Indian heritage to play and indeed score in the English Premier League. Our hope is that he will act as a positive footballing role model for aspiring Indian youngsters as well as those Asians in the UK. Our teams will be working closely with Michael to make a positive holistic contribution to the game in India.”
Chopra concludes, “I’m absolutely delighted to have been picked by Kerala Blasters. The fact that it’s owned by one of the greatest sportsman in the world, Sachin Tendulkar, is tremendous. I’m looking forward to meeting my new teammates, the fans and am ecstatic to have David James as the head coach. “