Hero ISL has been fantastic for Indian football: Matt Mills

Former FC Pune City defender Matthew Mills appreciated the steps taken by the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) to develop Indian football. The Englishman made 15 appearances for the erstwhile Pune-based club during the 2018-19 season and analysed how the league has improved since its inception in 2014.

“The Hero ISL has been fantastic for Indian football. Iain Hume will testify that the standard of Indian players has really gone up since Hero ISL began. The exposure of the Hero ISL players to foreign players really helped,” the former Manchester City defender told thebridge.in in an interview.

“I was really impressed with some of the players in our team. I thought Ashique (Kuruniyan) was fantastic. Obviously, he’s now gone on to Bengaluru FC.”

Having come through the youth ranks at Southampton FC, Mills joined Manchester City in 2006 and has spent most of his career in his home country. His stint with FC Pune City has been his only one outside England.

Speaking about his time in the Hero ISL, the defender lauded his former teammates and shone light on his time in the league, “I had a fantastic experience in the ISL… playing abroad was something that I always wanted to do. We had a lot of young players within our team and also some good foreign players who, obviously, had great pedigree. Marcelo Pereira and Iain Hume to name a few.”

Adding to this, the 34-year-old picked two-time finalists FC Goa as the team he loved playing against and also reminisced about his solitary goal in the competition.

“I had some fantastic memories, that goal against Jamshedpur was really, really memorable. I liked watching Goa. I think they were a very good team. I really enjoyed the games against Goa we had when I was there.”

Last month, Mills called time on his football career and has also revealed his post-retirement plans which could see a future return to the Hero ISL.

“I’m taking a step back from football completely. And, for the foreseeable future, that’s what I’ll be doing. I may return to India in the future, Who knows? Never say no.”

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