Adrian Luna interview: Kerala Blasters FC fans make me feel at home in India
The Kerala Blasters FC captain sat down with indiansuperleague.com to discuss a range of topics, including his early days, his transition to Kerala Blasters FC, his deep connection with the fans, and much more.
Adrian Luna has etched his name into the annals of Kerala Blasters FC. Since his arrival on the shores of India in 2021, Luna has quickly become a household name at Kerala Blasters FC and his impact has been profound.
In his debut season, he led the club to the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 final and followed it up by guiding them to the playoffs in the subsequent season, marking the first instance of back-to-back playoff qualifications for the Blasters. The Uruguayan midfielder continues to play a pivotal role for the club, having already netted two goals in the opening three ISL fixtures.
Luna's versatility as both a creative playmaker and a goal scorer has been evident throughout his career, which has seen him play in his home country, Uruguay, as well as in Spain, Mexico, and Australia. He has also represented Uruguay at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2009 and at the U-20 level.
Over the seasons, Luna's stature and significance at Kerala Blasters FC have continued to grow. Not only is he the favourite among the Kerala Blasters FC faithful, but he also holds the distinction of being the club's longest-serving foreign player, currently serving as the club captain.
#AdrianLuna has been a 🌟 performer for @KeralaBlasters since arriving in 🇮🇳— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) September 15, 2023
Watch him live in the #ISL 2023-24, starting from September 21, only on @JioCinema and @Sports18. 📺
#ISL10 #LetsFootball #ISLonJioCinema #ISLonSports18 #KeralaBlasters | @Sports18 pic.twitter.com/4teCmKSp41
Recently, the Kerala Blasters FC captain sat down with indiansuperleague.com to discuss a range of topics, including his early days, his transition to Kerala Blasters FC, his deep connection with the fans, and much more.
How did your journey with football begin?
I grew up in a little town in Uruguay called Tacuarembo. And back in the 90s, I always played with my friends in the street. I used to play football all day with them until my mother would call me to eat. The only time we (me and my friends) would go home was to eat. I was enjoying my life. Enjoying playing with my friends, enjoying playing on the street. Of course, I miss those times a lot, because I was very happy as a kid, as a teenager, so it was an amazing childhood.
How did playing on the street shape up your game?
I think it developed 90% of my game because when you play freely, you don't have to worry about anything. Just play and do whatever you want and you learn almost everything there. You only have to learn about tactics and other things when you come to a professional football club, but about the skills, about how to play football with passion and the way you approach every duel, you learn that on the streets.
Who were your idols while growing up?
I looked up to Ronaldinho and Diego Forlan initially. When I started to grow older, I looked up to (Lionel) Messi. I am a big Messi fan. I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo, the way he took free-kicks. I spent a lot of time looking at ways he would shoot the ball and from what angle. So it was important for me to master that technique of shooting from free-kicks.
You've made a name for yourself in India, but what challenges did you face on your journey to this point?
To become a professional football player, I had to leave my small town when I was 16 years old. I moved to Montevideo to join Defensor Sporting. They gave me a chance to start to play professional football when I was 16-17. So it wasn't easy. Of course, when you leave your home or when you are a teenager, you miss your friends, you miss your city, your family. But as a kid, you have the dream to become a professional football player, so I had to follow my dream. So I realised that by playing football, I can help my family too in many ways.
When I was 17, they moved me from the first team to the U-17 team. 17 is a very amateur age to be a full professional footballer, so it wasn't easy. I made a lot of mistakes. When I was 19 I moved to Spain and it wasn't the best period of my career because I didn't play much in Spain to be honest. Then I moved to Uruguay again when I was 21. I learned from my mistakes and moved on. It wasn’t an easy path in my football career.. but here I am at Kerala Blasters FC enjoying my life playing in front of so many fans so I'm happy for that. Me and my family are so grateful to this club.
How did the move to Kerala Blasters FC happen, and what factors led you to India?
I spoke with Federico Gallego, about the league, about the level, the facilities, the pitches and other things. He was positive about this. So after that, I realised the ISL also had three or four months of break, which for me was very important because I can spend time with my kids with my family, my wife. This particular point was the key to move to India because you want to spend time with your family. And I think it's the only league in the world apart from MLS where if you don't qualify for the playoffs, you have four months off. So it was a really good option for me and I am proud to have made that decision. I'm enjoying my life here.
How have you found the level of the league in India?
Before I arrived here, I thought the ISL was going to be easy. I thought it’s going to be fun to win titles and score a lot of goals, but the reality was totally different. It is not easy to win games and win titles because the quality of the league is good. It impressed me a lot. Also the quality of players, the quality of pitches, the organisation..so it's good for the league, it is good for Indian football. Indian football can still improve, but you need time to improve. The league is heading in the right direction. India has good players, good coaches.
You and Ivan Vukomanovic have been at the club since 2021, and you seem to enjoy the freedom he gives you on the pitch. What sets him apart from your previous coaches?
I think the freedom that he gives you on the pitch is very important for a football player. Because you feel you can do whatever you want, when you have the ball. And without the ball, you have your role, when you defend. The way he manages situations (is amazing). Last season, we won the first game (against East Bengal FC), but then we lost three games in a row after that. But he was so calm and had a lot of confidence that we could turn around these three defeats. So I think the most important thing that I have learned from him is how to manage difficult situations by being calm and confident.
Do you miss Uruguay a little less now, given the love and adoration you receive from Kerala Blasters FC fans?
You always miss your home, it doesn’t matter wherever you are, but they (Kerala Blasters FC fans) make me feel at home here (in India). They give me so much love. So I am grateful to them and I appreciate the love that they give. That is why I try to do my best on the pitch. I try my best to give them joy, to the people of Kerala and the fans. They love me, I love them so it's a good relationship.
You've had a successful career at Kerala Blasters FC, but do you feel your career wouldn't be complete without winning a trophy for the fans?
It's important for any player to win titles but the most important thing is that in the end you have no regrets. So far I have no regrets, from what I do on the pitch and off the pitch. I am giving my everything, every day, every single game. So of course I want to win titles, yes. But the more important thing for me personally is that I have no regrets about my commitment, my passion, about everything that I do on the pitch. I'm at peace with myself.
How do you reflect on your journey in India?
I'm happy with my decision (to come here). I'm happy right now so that means that I have made the right decision. I want to retire here in India, preferably at Kerala Blasters FC. If not at Kerala Blasters FC, we will still be friends, no problem. If I want to finish my career here then I have made the right decision.