"We deserved to win the title because we were consistent." - Arnab Mondal
22th December 2014
Atletico de Kolkata's rock solid centre-back, Arnab Mondal, could hardly believe what had transpired when the referee blew his whistle to crown Kolkata as the first champions of the inaugural Hero Indian Super League. The eastern side beat Kerala Blasters FC 1-0 in the final thanks to a stoppage time goal scored by substitute Mohammed Rafique. The Indian international was besides himself with joy and found himself lauded by all his teammates and owners alike. The 25-year-old defender was a rock throughout Kolkata's campaign and his consistent performances in the backline did have not go unnoticed. Team co-owner Sourav Ganguly delivered an exciting piece of news when he revealed exclusively to indiansuperleague.com that the current La Liga champions, Atletico de Madrid, were interested in the shy lad from Kolkata. The ISL official website caught up with the talented defender moments after the final whistle. Here are some excerpts from the interview :
Congratulations. Could you describe the final for us in your own words?
It is like a fairy-tale for me. Kerala played some great football and created some good chances. Edel (the Kolkata goalkeeper) pulled off a miraculous save to keep us alive. When Rafique scored, I could not believe it. He scored at the perfect time and delivered the title to us. I still cannot believe that we are the champions! It will take some time to sink in. I would like to thank all my teammates, the head coach, the support staff, the owners and all our fans.
How does it feel to be the first champions of the ISL?
I know that the ISL will go on for years to come. But we shall forever be the first champion. It is a feeling that cannot be described in words. I would thank the almighty for bestowing this unique honour on us. I never thought that such a day would come in Indian football. It has been a magnificent tournament. We deserved to win it because we were consistent throughout.
How important has your coach (Antonio Habas) been for the team?
He has been brilliant! From the very first day, he instilled a sense of confidence in us. He treated us all as equals. No one was a star in his eyes. He made all the Indian and foreign players feel part of one single team. He granted no favours, those who have played in every game, have played on merit. His coaching methods and his strategies made all the difference.
Do you think that the ISL has changed your life forever?
Yes, absolutely. The tournament is a dream come true for players like me. To play with and against such excellent international players has been an education. I am thankful to God for giving me this opportunity. To crown it off, we have won the title. Everywhere we went, we were mobbed by fans who showered a lot of love on us. My life has definitely changed for the better.