Erik Paartalu extends Bengaluru stay

Following in the footsteps of Bengaluru FC teammate Udanta Singh, 33-year-old midfielder Erik Paartalu has agreed to a contract extension with the Blues. The deal, which was announced on Monday, will see the Australian stay at the club for two more years. The Australian has been a key member of the Bengaluru squad for three seasons now, helping them lift the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 title and the Hero Super Cup 2018 trophy.

On a personal front, Paartalu arguably enjoyed his best campaign in the Hero ISL in the recently-concluded 2019-20 season, scoring two goals and providing five assists. His range of passing and ability to affect games in both boxes proved crucial as Carles Cuadrat’s side reached the Hero ISL semi-finals for the third season running. In total, the midfielder has played 49 Hero ISL matches, and has seven goals and as many assists to his name.

Born in Sydney, Paartalu began his footballing career with Northern Spirit in the National Soccer League (now A-League). After playing for a few clubs in the Australian league, he plied his trade with five clubs in five different countries - Tianjin Teda in China, Muangthong United in Thailand, Melbourne City in Australia, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in South Korea and Al Kharaitiyat in Qatar - before signing for Bengaluru in 2017. He played a big part in the Blues’ run to the Hero ISL 2017-18 final and the Hero Super Cup 2018 win in his debut season in India.

In Bengaluru’s 2018-19 Hero ISL title-winning campaign, Paartalu contributed heavily, scoring two goals, but missed out on the semi-finals and the final after sustaining an injury. He returned to the squad after missing the initial phases of the 2019-20 campaign and helped the Blues reach the semi-finals yet again.

Upon putting pen-to-paper, the 33-year-old said, “Bengaluru has held a special place in my heart for the past three years. Every time I leave the city, I am somehow drawn back to it, whether it’s the football, the fans or the way of life. And I’ve decided to continue the journey for two more years at least.”

“On the football front, the motivation from within the club to win titles and to be the best in the country cannot be matched by any other club. With that said, my decision was an easy one, once I had time to reflect. The players and staff were also a big factor in continuing what’s been a beautiful love story. I’ve made some amazing friends for life and our daily work ethic is something I hold close to me and it’s what motivates me to get up each day,” he added.

Bengaluru CEO Mandar Tamhane was just as delighted at the news, stating, “Erik has been an important part of the Bengaluru family over three seasons and we felt it was important that we extend his stay. He has been a thorough professional, always bringing 100% to the pitch – whether it be training or games, and we are only glad that we will have two more seasons of him at Bengaluru.”

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