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I have great memories of Bangalore, says Luisma


Bengaluru, Nov. 6: Much water has flown under the bridge since Luis Manuel Villa Lopez joined Indian Super League (ISL) champions Bengaluru FC last season.

Luisma, as he is fondly known among his peers, was a free agent when he initially signed a one-year contract with BFC.

It was a fairytale season for the Spaniard as the Blues went to win their maiden ISL crown. But with each club having to stick to the eight-foreign- player norm, and with only five allowed at a given time on the pitch, Luisma did not fit into coach Carles Cuadrat's scheme of things as his contract was not renewed.

At 30, Luisma's career has hit a roadblock, but he is hopeful of resurrecting it.

"I really enjoyed having played abroad and it is something that every footballer should try and least once in their life," Luisma was candid while admitting the challenges ahead of him to Online Betting reporters at Betway.

Having come through the ranks at his local club Racing Santander, Luisma has plied his trade at home, England and India.

Despite the huge cultural differences, he waxed eloquent about the ISL experience.

"To have people from your own country helped make the distance seem more bearable. ISL is a little different. The fifth division in England was much harder, with lots of physical contact, lots of force, long balls, 4-4-2.

"The ISL, on the other hand, is a little slower, with more control of the ball and players with great individual technique. They are very different leagues.

The midfield marshall was of the opinion that despite being a talent hub, there is no harm in Spanish players going abroad in search of greener pastures. "Definitely. Lots of Spaniards end up in India or other countries.

"We have very good players in Spain, and more and better players are leaving.

Luisma was also all praise for the Indian players and their attitude towards the game. "They're great players. They are very professional and work hard to improve and be able to help the team," Luisma spoke in awe of Indian players and ISL.

"Sunil Chhetri, for example, is an icon in his country who has scored more goals for the national team than anybody else. He is 35 years old but trains like he is 18.

"For the football players in their country, and especially for the youngest ones, that is something very important because it shows that, with ambition, sacrifice and work, you can achieve great things.

"Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was a goalkeeper in great shape. Udanta Singh was among the fastest players I've ever seen - that's why they called him 'Flash' - and he's only 23.

"On the pitch they are very hard-working and off it they are just normal guys, although some are funnier than others! They were of a good level and they keep improving."

Probably for the first time, Luisma is now without a club and is exploring other career options.

"It is strange," he admits, "because this is a new situation for me.

"It's frustrating, but I'm keeping myself in shape for any moment that a new opportunity may arise.

"I'm very clear in my mind - I want to keep playing football, to have fun on the field of play, be in a dressing room with team-mates. I miss everything that surrounds it but, above all, I want to carry on enjoying doing what I love most."

Before signing off, Luisma spoke about his love for the city of Bengaluru and its passionate football fans. "I have great memories of Bangalore. They're three months that I'll never forget.

"The relationship between the players was really good. The coaching staff made sure there was a good atmosphere around the place, and any dressing room that feels like a family goes a long way together.

"The Indian fans were also incredible," he said. "They really surprised me for the better.

"On the day of the ISL final, we arrived on the coach, and I remember seeing all the people jumping for joy. Every single person in their colours - both for Bengaluru and Goa - mixing among themselves, no bad vibes.

"It was incredible to see them enjoying themselves like that."

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Story first published: Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 18:11 [IST]
Other articles published on Nov 6, 2019
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