John Gregory: What we achieved hasn’t sunk in yet

Chennaiyin FC won their second Hero Indian Super League (ISL) title after defeating Bengaluru FC 3 – 2 in the final of Hero ISL 2017-18 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. The win was especially satisfying to co-owner Vita Dani and their head coach John Gregory after the club endured a woeful Hero ISL 2016 campaign.

Both Dani and Gregory addressed the media a day after their triumph and the co-owner expressed her delight while lauding Gregory for his contribution. “I am proud to say that we are the most successful Hero ISL team,” Dani said. “Of course, John has played a very important role, especially after having to bounce back from last season. It is under his leadership that the team has performed so well. We have won two trophies; both under different circumstances. And both are equally important to us for the fans of Chennai.”

Gregory also shared his joy and revealed that the job was far from easy. “It has been a great season, and yesterday was an amazing experience,” he remarked. “I was not here obviously when the team won the league in 2015. This was my first time here, and so it was more than I ever anticipated it to be. It is a very proud moment for me. It was a fantastic opportunity to manage Chennaiyin FC, and we have come up with the goods. It has never been easy, and I must say I have never worked as hard as I did since I came to this football club.”

The 63-year-old admitted that it’s still taking time for the feeling of success to sink in. “I really don’t think it’s sunk in yet, what I achieved last night,” Gregory said. “There were a lot of fans at the airport today and I think that’s where it started to sink in. I saw the incredible happiness that football brings to people, and certainly to our fans.”

Regarding the fans he added, “Obviously we were champions two seasons ago, but last season was not so good. But the fans stuck with the team. They were waiting in thousands at the airport when we got back which was amazing. And that was the start of the realization of what we have achieved throughout the entire course of the season.”

Gregory went on to share how he developed his players and built a squad capable of achieving success. “I just try to look at the good points of a player and use it to their strengths,” the Englishman explained. “I will use the strength of a player in a situation that will benefit the team. We have a few players who don’t pass as well as the foreign players. But their energy is huge. You cannot deny that asset, and you have to use that asset. There are little things like video analysis as well where we sit down and improve players.”

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