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Indian Super League: Graham Stack - 'I could go back to Kerala Blasters if Coppell goes back'

Goal.com logo Goal.com 06-07-2017

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Graham Stack, who was a part of the Kerala Blasters team which reached the final of the 2016 Indian Super League, thrown open the possibility of him returning to the Kochi-based franchise.

Stack, currently playing for English fifth-tier outfit Eastleigh, was speaking in a talk show hosted by sports radio station talkSPORT.

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He said, "We (Kerala Blasters) got to the final of the ISL and lost but it was a great experience. I could potentially go back and link up with Steve Coppell if he went there but I'm under contract here so I don't know."

The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned franchise had been in talks with Steve Coppell, who helmed their run to the 2016 ISL final, but Goal reported earlier that the talks had gone cold as of now. Stack had played under Steve Coppell at Reading.

The 25-year-old went on to speak at length about his experience playing in India last year, describing the fans as 'fanatical'. He said, "Obviously you have bigger teams in the league like Delhi Dynamos, Mumbai City FC and Atletico de Kolkata but in Kerala and Kolkata, football was predominant. You'd think cricket would dominate but it doesn't.

"Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar was our owner but even then, it was completely football in Kerala. They are fanatical about football," he added. "On the way to games, even the police are there singing and dancing with the crowd. They don't think they are superior. There was never any trouble I faced with respect to security either.

"The biggest thing for me in Kerala was playing in front of 70000 supporters."

Stack spoke about why he decided to sign up for the ISL challenge back in 2016, underlining the difficulties he encountered in making the choice. "I was at Barnet. I was offered another year at which stage Steve Coppell was announced as Kerala Blasters manager. I had already worked with him as a player. Also, having done my coaching badges, I thought we could do something together over there.

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"He actually came to watch me play and wanted to see if I was capable. Then I had a chat with my family and decided to move. It was a big decision moving to the other side of the world, leaving my wife and four children," he explained.

The 6'2" tall custodian had words of praises for his Indian teammates, comparing them to players plying their trade in the English Championship (England's second-tier league). "There were some really good Indian players there and certainly in our team and I think if they were allowed to play here, they would be able to play in the top half of the championship," he claimed.

During the talk show, Stack also mentioned that he was treated like movie stars in India with five-star accommodation and security detail. However, he felt that the training facilities in India were poor.

"We stayed in five star hotels and were treated like movie stars. We were looked after very well but the training facilities were poor and the grass needs a lot of work. But they have this U17 World Cup coming up and I'm led to believe they've invested a lot into improving the facilities," he asserted.

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