I want to be the best defender in Hero ISL: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Florentin Pogba

ATK Mohun Bagan made the headlines when they signed Guinea international defender Florentin Pogba ahead of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season.

The experienced centre-back who has the experience of playing in the French top flight is certain to strengthen the Mariners’ defence and make them among the favourites to win the Hero ISL title.

Pogba’s presence in the squad will also aid ATK Mohun Bagan’s bid to excel in the Durand Cup and the AFC Cup as they eye a sweep of all the trophies.

Pogba who joined up with the rest of the ATK Mohun Bagan squad spoke to the reporters after his first training session with the club on Sunday.

Here are the excerpts from the interaction:

Why did you choose India and ATK Mohun Bagan?

It was a very quick decision. I spoke with my agent. and he asked me if I wanted to go to ATK Mohun Bagan, so I said why not? I am a player that likes to discover new countries and new challenges. It all happened very fast and I am very happy to be here and I can't wait to start.

I knew that players like Nicolas Anelka and Robert Pires came to finish their careers in the Hero ISL, so I said why not come here?

Did you speak to Paul Pogba about this move and do you have plans to invite Paul Pogba to watch a Hero ISL match?

No, I didn't speak with him. He is happy to see me come here.

I don't know. He has to play his season, he has to play the World Cup, so I don't know if he gets time to come. But if he comes, it will be great, but honestly, he doesn't have time to come.

Have you got the chance to see footage of the Kolkata derby?

I know we are going to play the Kolkata derby. It's a very good game and a very big derby. I can't wait to play the Kolkata derby. I've played in a derby before when I was in St Etienne against Lyon, so I am aware of the kind of atmosphere it will be there. So, I'm very excited to start the derby game.

What is the first impression of the training session at ATK Mohun Bagan?

The first impression for me is of the supporters because they are great. I liked it a lot because when I was in St Etienne, the fans always came to see the training. I like that. The coach wants to play with the ball all the time, so for me, it was perfect.

Hugo Boumous has revealed that he is a good friend of yours. Did you speak with him?

I spoke to Hugo Boumous two months ago about ATK Mohun Bagan. We have got the same agent, so we speak regularly. He is a good player and he can help the team. I feel we have a very good team for winning trophies. That's my goal.

What is your personal target for the upcoming season?

I want to be the best defender in the league, to win the league. I also want to win the AFC Cup. An Indian club has never won that trophy, so that is my first challenge. I will be happy if we cross the first hurdle.

How long will it take for you to be match-fit?

I am fit. I never stop. I keep training. I just took one week's holiday. So if we have to play in just one week, I will be fit.

You played for France earlier but then switched to Guinea national team. What was the reason for that?

I played for France at U-20 and U-23 levels. But it was mostly in training sessions and friendly games. Then the manager of the Guinea national team called me. My heart was with Guinea so I chose Guinea. I knew that I had the quality to play for France but I went with my heart.

Who is your footballing idol?

My favourite football player is Lionel Messi because he is technically unbelievable. Everything is perfect about him. For me, he is the best ever player.

I played as a No 10 as a kid. I only played as a defender because one of my teammates then got injured. So the coach told me that I have to play as a defender for some games because he is injured. I eventually stayed in the same position because the team was winning. That's how I became a defender but my original position is midfield.

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