Matt Derbyshire interview: ‘Hero ISL is a tough league and I love to test myself in uncomfortable environments’

Image Courtesy: NorthEast United FC Media

NorthEast United FC’s latest attacking recruit Matt Derbyshire comes into Indian football with vast experience.

From playing six seasons in the Premier League that includes scoring against Manchester United at Old Trafford to spending eight more seasons in Greece, Cyprus and Australia combined, Derbyshire has been to different parts of the world and made the net bulge.

With NorthEast United FC, he hopes to do the same as he aims to fill the void left by Deshorn Brown’s departure and take them back to the knockout stages of the competition.

Derbyshire though has greater responsibility in Guwahati as he is one of the handful experienced heads in the side to guide the young players and take them through difficult moments.

The 36-year-old who played for the England U-21 sides 14 times will be a key figure in Marco Balbul’s set-up and also a big contender for the Hero ISL Golden Boot in the upcoming season.

Derbyshire spoke at length about his preparation for Hero ISL 2022-23 season, his teammates and his expectations from the campaign in an exclusive interview to indiansuperleague.com.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

What were the factors that led to you joining NorthEast United FC and Indian football?

I've travelled across the world. Australia, Greece, Cyprus and England. I felt I fancy something different. I heard a lot of good things about NorthEast United FC, so I jumped on the chance.

What is your early impression of the players at NorthEast United FC? What qualities stand out for you?

There are some great boys around. As a team, we have a lot to learn but that's why we are here in pre-season to thrash things out. I am looking forward to working with these boys every day and try and help them, give them a bit of my experience of the game.

What is the impression of Hero ISL? Did you follow the league or learn about it from afar?

I knew a few friends that have played in the Hero ISL before. It is not an easy league, it's a tough league, especially the weather conditions. India is very humid but I'm looking forward to playing in it, I am looking forward to the season and see what it brings.

You have arrived fairly late into the pre-season. So how do you plan to get ready for the season in time?

I always keep myself pretty fit, it's just getting used to the conditions. It's warm and humid. I am trying to get used to it and it will take a few days but I'm sure it will be fine.

You have played at the highest level in England but also played in other countries. India is a totally different culture football wise. What do you feel are your greatest challenges in terms of adapting to Indian football and how do you plan to tackle it?

I would like to tackle it head on. It's a new environment. I'd like to put myself in an environment which is very uncomfortable. But I am looking forward to the challenge and give everything I got for the club and then we can see.

NorthEast United FC didn't have a good season last year. You have seen a lot of highs and lows in your career. How do you think you can lift the players for the upcoming season?

It's always difficult (to lift the players). Last season was very difficult for the club but this season I'm sure with the experience of players that we have brought in is going to be good for the team and hopefully we can push up the table.

Have you spoken to Marco Balbul. What kind of role do you expect to play?

He is a good guy and definitely a good coach because I can see the young guys learn a lot from him every single day. As far as my role in the team, I'd like to help the team win. On the training pitch and every day, I'd like to help the younger players and even the older players from my experiences around the world.

Do you have any goal target for the season?

Normally, I don't like to set myself goals. I like to play as many games as possible, be in the starting line-up of course and go from there. The most important thing for me is helping the team win. If the team wins, I'm happy.

Any message to the fans?

Come and support us as much as you can. Will really appreciate it.

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