Iain Hume: Hero ISL was possibly the most enjoyable years of my career
Iain Hume became a Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) legend after spending five years of his career with ATK FC, Kerala Blasters FC and FC Pune City. A favourite among the fans, Hume recounted his time in the Hero ISL as his most enjoyable. "I never ever thought in a million years, that I will be playing in India but I never ever will forget in a million years that I played in India. It was possibly the most enjoyable years of my career. It's something I look back with great pride,” the Canadian striker declared while on a facebook live with Sportskeeda.com.
Hume was a mainstay for both Kerala and ATK during his time in the league. After leading Kerala to the final of the inaugural season of the Hero ISL, he moved to opponents ATK, winning the league with the Kolkata-based club in his second season at ATK. During his time in the Hero ISL, he made 69 appearances, scoring 28 goals and eight assists.
Hume reminisced about his time with ATK, laying plaudits on his teammates at the club, "First season in Kerala was amazing for me, but when I moved to Kolkata, it stepped up a bit, with the philosophy they had at the time, and the players they had at the club. I got a lot of plaudits at Kolkata because I scored goals, and I know that happens with strikers. The first season at Kolkata was incredible. With (Sameehg) Doutie and me, and (Ofentse) Nato and Borja (Fernandez) playing in midfield, how can I not score goals."
He spent his first season with ATK under the tutelage of Antonio Lopez Habas, but the Spanish head coach was replaced by Jose Francisco Molina during ATK’s second title-winning campaign. Speaking about his time under Habas, the striker gushed, "It was so fun to play and train with those guys. I was devastated that Habas left, we had a great relationship, and we understood and trusted each other with everything. It was just so fun playing in that Kolkata team in the second season, and the third season was great because we won the league."
Before moving to ATK and cementing his place as a league legend, Hume started off at Kerala Blasters, leading the team to the final against his future employers. Talking about his time at the Kochi-based club, he said, "The Kerala team had Mehtab Hossain, Steven Pearson, you had Andrew Barisic you had Michael Chopra. Players like Sandesh Jhingan, Saumik Dey, Nirmal Chhetri, Cedric Hengbart, you had these players who would run through a brick wall for each other and that is why we were successful."
Adding to this, he spoke about his second stint with Kerala Blasters, while talking about the rise of Sahal Abdul Samad, who broke out during the 2018-19 season, winning the Hero ISL Emerging Player of the League award. "When I returned to Kerala Blasters for the second time, I had the opportunity to train with Sahal. Despite his frightening technical ability, the other side of his game was always in question. I always demanded more from him, and shouted at him a couple of times to work harder during training as well," Hume commented while talking about the young midfielder.
Hume placed the onus of India’s attacking future of the shoulders of players like Sahal, Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan, calling on them to take inspiration from their national team skipper Sunil Chhetri, "If Sunil can consistently perform, even at the age of 36, why can't they do the same? They even have the quality to play abroad, but they must believe in themselves. Sunil pushed himself above his limits, and competed with one of India's greatest in Bhaichung Bhutia."
Finally, the Canadian striker, who was a fan favourite wherever he played, attributed his massive following down to the footballing states of West Bengal and Kerala, "I was fortunate to play for ATK and Kerala Blasters. I fell into the footballing states because fan following in Kerala and Kolkata was huge. Playing in front of the Manjappada for Blasters and ATK fans was amazing. I will look back at my Hero ISL career with great pride.”