Mumbai FC wanted me the most: Arata Izumi

Mumbai FC announced the signing of Japanese born Indian midfielder Arata Izumi, on loan from Indian Super League club Atletico de Kolkata on Thursday as the former Pune FC midfielder was yet another high profile addition to the squad as the club’s preparations for the upcoming I-League season gathers pace. Arata’s arrival is expected to bolster Mumbai FC’s midfield which has already seen additions in the shape of Eric Brown and former Indian midfielder N.P. Pradeep.

A week into his stint with Mumbai FC, Arata spoke exclusively to Football Counter revealing the reason for choosing Mumbai FC and the Asian contingent at the club before forecasting what Mumbai FC fans can expect from him.

Here are the Excerpts from the conversation

Arata, Congratulations on your move to Mumbai FC. How has your first week at the club been?
AI: The first week has been great actually. The players here are very welcoming and the coach has treated me with a lot of respect. So it has been really good week here and I can say that I am already feeling comfortable at Mumbai FC.
There were many clubs interested in your signature. What was the reason for choosing Mumbai FC over the others?
AI: There are a lot of reasons, but the main reason for choosing Mumbai FC was the way the club approached me. In my opinion, Mumbai FC showed the most interest in me and as a player you are always honoured when a team shows such a great level of interest in you. At the same time, I know a lot of players in Mumbai FC like (N.P) Pradeep and Steven (Dias)and obviously Taisuke, Minchol Son and the other Asian players. So these two werethe main reasons I chose Mumbai FC over the others.
Did you speak with Coach Khalid Jamil before joining? What was the conversation like?
AI: Yes we did speak briefly and he told me that Mumbai FC has a very good team which would be challenging at the top in the I-League. As a player, I was looking for a club which will fight at the top and I felt Mumbai FC would be the perfect challenge for me. I have known Khalid Jamil for almost nine years now and we have a great understanding.
So now that you have signed, what do you expect to achieve at Mumbai FC? What are your personal goals?
AI: My personal goals will always be to give my best. I take it game by game. For me the next game is the most important and when the game after that comes, it is the most important. I am here to give great results to this club and I will give my best to help this club achieve great things in the future.
Mumbai FC has two Japanese players and one player from North Korea. You too have played in Japan before. So what can we expect from these Asian players at Mumbai FC?
AI: I think the tactical understanding of the Japanese players is very high, they are tactically disciplined. At Mumbai FC the quality of the Asian players is very high. I can speak Japanese and I feel that will help me communicate with the Asian players comfortably. At the same time, we have Eric who is physically strong and comes from Africa. So with some high quality Indian players in the team as well, I feel we have a very good combination of different cultures. I feel that makes the Mumbai FC team very interesting.
Have you learnt a bit of Hindi in your time in India?
AI: Very little. I am slightly ashamed that despite being here for ten years, I haven’t learnt Hindi. When I came to India, my English wasn’t too good, so I put in great efforts to learn English. Now that I know English, I can communicate with everyone, so that has made me slightly lazy when it comes to learning Hindi.
You made your debut in the ISL this year with Atletico de Kolkata. How was the experience?
AI: The ISL was a great experience. Playing with so many top quality International players was really a great experience for me. At Atletico, we had some really good players like Hume, Doutie and Borja, and that is what helped to score five goals in the competition.
How is the ISL different from the I-League? And how do you see Indian football compared to Football in Japan?
AI: The I-League and the ISL are two completely different ball games and it is difficult to compare both. However, I feel both the leagues are highly competitive. The J-League in Japan is again very different from the Indian Leagues and I won’t be able to compare. But Indian Football has vastly improved in the last ten years and I believe India will be one of the powerhouses in Asian football in the future.
You spent six years at Pune FC, who shut down their first team operations this year. What was the reaction when you learnt about it?
AI: My reaction was obviously very sad. Pune FC was one of the most professional club in India and they were trying to do some really good things for Indian Football. It is very sad that they had to close down. But I hope more clubs like Pune FC come up in the near future as Indian Football needs more such clubs.
The Mumbai FC fans are quite excited to see you be part of Mumbai FC. What can the Mumbai FC fans expect from Arata Izumi?
AI: It is really great to know that the fans are expecting something exciting from me and that for me is the biggest motivation. I will give my hundred percent every week, the results may or may not come, but I promise to give my hundred percent to entertain the fans of Mumbai FC.
What is your message to the Mumbai FC fans?
AI: My message is simple. Come to the stands, love us and love me.

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