Triadis: Fans’ love makes it easier for foreigners to play in India

In the latest episode of Let’s Football Live, NorthEast United FC midfielder Panagiotis Triadis spoke of his love for India and the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). The Greek-born German midfielder was effusive in his praise for the Hero ISL as well as his time in the country, identifying the love of fans as the reason behind many foreign players thriving in the league.

“I loved my time over there (in India). I had a blast. I got a lot of love from the fans. It was absolutely overwhelming from the beginning. I was really welcomed with open arms. It was an absolutely great feeling. I truly understand why it’s easier for the foreigners to play there; it’s because of the love of the fans. I had a fun time at the club,” Triadis told host Anant Tyagi.

The 27-year-old, who also revealed that his name means the male version of Mother Mary in Greek and Latin during the chat, went on to explain how his Indian adventure came to pass. “I was having dinner at a restaurant in Athens with my girlfriend and a very good friend of ours. My agent sent me a message out of the blue. I hadn’t spoken to him for a few days. He said, ‘Pana, pack your stuff together, you are going to India.’ The others encouraged me to do so saying how nice the country was,” Triadis explained.

“After calling my agent, he told me that he had a word with (NorthEast United CEO) Mr Prashant Agarwal and they were very interested in me, especially the coach Eelco Schattorie... I sat with my family and took this decision because every decision that I take in my life, we make it as a family. The next thing you know I flew back to Frankfurt to get my visa and three-four days later I was in Guwahati,” he added.

Unlike last season, Triadis didn’t know what to expect when he joined NorthEast midway through Hero ISL 2018-19. “For me, the first time I came, it was a big unknown for me. I had never been to Asia, so it felt like I was going to a new world and starting a new life. I didn’t know what to expect. The second time I was like ‘I’m coming back to my boy, let’s do this!’ It was a very big difference between my first and second year (in the league),” he said.

While expanding on his first campaign in the Hero ISL, Triadis said, “I came on pretty late. I played half the season in Greece. I came towards the second half of the (Hero ISL) season. It was difficult for Eelco as well because he had his foreigners with whom he had success with, and then he had a player like me, who demanded to play every time. They were all playing very well and we had healthy competition. We supported each other in different ways. Federico (Gallego) and Bartholomew (Ogbeche).”

He continued, “The centre-backs Mislav (Komorski) and Mato (Grgic) also pushed us in the right direction. This competition among the foreigners also helped the Indians because we had amazing players and this helped all the Indian boys to push each other. It was like we were a big family off the filed but on the field, it was very healthy competition, and I believe that is the key.”

One domestic talent who was a revelation during his two seasons with NorthEast was Redeem Tlang and Triadis had high praise for the fleet-footed Indian winger, who recently joined FC Goa. “Redeem is a very good player. He’s a very consistent player. He will always give you a 7 out of 10. He will push for an eight or a nine but he’s a very consistent player. And that’s a very difficult quality to have, and that’s his strong suit,” Triadis opined.

“He can always compete on a very high level and be competitive and score goals. He can keep the ball and score goals too. He is definitely a good player in the making.  He’s a great acquisition for Goa. He is also a great kid off the field so it’s a great transfer,” he insisted.

Scoring goals and hitting the target, of course, is something that the 27-year-old also prides himself on. However, when asked about his most memorable Hero ISL moment so far, Triadis spoke of his relief after finding the back of the net with a strike from distance against Mumbai City FC in Guwahati.

“I think I will say it’s the goal against Mumbai City FC. I definitely pride myself with my shooting technique. I keep practising this even during training. It’s no coincidence that it went in during the game. I’m just happy because across my time in the Hero ISL, I kept hitting the post or the crossbar, so I was just happy to get the ball in the back of the net in that fashion,” he said.

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