Nicky Shorey, the former West Brom and Aston Villa left-back, has said he is privileged to play football in a country where the beautiful game is slowly getting recognition, as he looks forward to his first outing in the Indian Super League (ISL).
He signed for FC Pune City this year along with former Cardiff and Birmingham City defender Roger Johnson, and both the players will ply their trade in the second edition of the ISL.
Both Shorey and Johnson have explained that the presence of former England U-21 head coach David Platt at the ISL franchisee played a crucial role in them deciding to play for the ISL.
The excitement factor in the cash-rich football tournament is also another reason for 34-year-old Shorey that drew him towards India.
"The ISL can prove to be a boon for Indian football at the international level. It's early days for the league, so you can't really predict who the favourites will be which is why it is more exciting than other leagues," Shorey told The Indian Express.
"I was a kid when he [Platt] played and I liked his playing style a lot. When he asked me to play for his side, I couldn't say no. In a country where football is regaining recognition through ISL, it is my privilege to be a part of it.
"I feel I can contribute to the team," Shorey, who won the Championship with Reading in the 2005-06 season, added.
Johnson has explained that he chose the ISL side to renew his association with Platt as well as FC Pune goalkeeper Steve Simonsen. He mentioned that he wanted to make a mark for himself, after Platt told him that the league became popular in its inaugural edition itself.
"I know Nicky and Steve from my premier league days and there's a fantastic camaraderie which all of us share. Apart from them, there's a good mix of domestic and international players," the 32-year-old centre-back said.
"Platt told me that the league has got tremendous potential and has already garnered huge popularity. I wanted to make a mark for myself here.
"I just hate to lose and give my hundred percent in each game. I've played with a winning mentality all my life and ISL is no exception. We're upbeat and putting in a lot of hard work, we can give our fans much to cheer about this season," he added, as he looks forward to guiding Pune City to their first-ever title win.
The Pune franchisee side open their campaign this season by taking on rivals Mumbai City FC in a Maharashtra derby on 5 October at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.