Ogbeche promises to give his best for Hyderabad FC and hopes for fans to return to stadiums
Hyderabad FC’s new signing Bartholomew Ogbeche has promised to give his best when the next season of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) kicks off later this year. The Nigerian striker is not at all new to the league and has enthralled one and all in his previous three seasons in India, playing for NorthEast United FC in 2018-19), Kerala Blasters FC in 2019-20 and Mumbai City FC in 2020-21.
“There is this unquenchable hunger for success that is a part of my being and it is non-negotiable. Regardless of the circumstances and the uncertainties surrounding my future, my preparation for the next Hero ISL season began just a couple of weeks after we were crowned the Hero ISL Champions. So, I can promise that I will give my best in every game and training session at Hyderabad FC,” he told Hyderabad FC’s official website.
Last season the league was played behind closed doors in Goa and Ogbeche hopes the 2021-22 edition sees the return of fans to the stadiums as their presence brings out the best in him. “I think I perform better with fans in the stadium. I believe that they are one of the driving forces for me and it is quite a different game without them. I sincerely hope that the situation gets better soon and that we can have fans back in the stadium like in most European countries,” he said.
With 35 Hero ISL goals to his name, the 36-year-old is the third-highest goalscorer in the history of the league. He has played enough in India to know a thing or two about the progression in Indian football in recent years. “There is still a long way to go but yes, there has been tremendous improvement in many areas. The National Team is more competitive now in international competitions. The teams in the Hero ISL have grown stronger not just locally but also on the international stage as shown by the recent performances by clubs [FC Goa] in the AFC Champions League.
“A lot of the credit has to go to the organizers, the Reliance Foundation, AIFF, FSDL, and all other dedicated sponsors,” he said.
Ogbeche may have won the League Winners Shield and the prestigious Hero ISL trophy last season with the Islanders, it’s his stint with NorthEast United FC in 2018-19 that is closest to his heart. “There have been quite a few in these years but I think helping NorthEast United to the semifinals for the very first time in the club’s history is going to stay with me for a long time,” he said.
“Last season [with Mumbai City FC] was really memorable and splendid to say the least, for everyone involved. Being able to win everything available, in the way that we did gives a feeling of pride and gratification that cannot be expressed in words.”
Ogbeche, who has plied his trade in a number of countries like France, England, Greece, UAE, Spain and the Netherlands, also spoke of what helps him while on the move. “Adapting to a new environment, new teammates and different lifestyles is never easy. But I believe that along with discipline, hard work, and dedication, pliability is one of my biggest strengths.
“The Hero ISL is also pretty different to other leagues. From the climate in the country to restrictions on the number of foreigners, from competitive balance to unpredictability, the Hero ISL is a real entertainer,” he said.