There is, perhaps, no better match for Robbie Fowler to begin his stint in India than the Indian Super League’s (ISL) first-ever Kolkata derby.
Fowler’s playing record is glorified with memorable derby moments. From scoring the winner in his very first Merseyside derby (Liverpool vs Everton), finding the net multiple times in the Manchester derby while playing for Manchester City, and even managed to create a goal in the Pennines derby – Manchester United versus Leeds United. And now he gets to experience a fixture that is as old and as intense as any of the others he has experienced so far in the world.
However, this time around the 45-year-old will be in the dugout in his new job as the head coach of SC East Bengal.
“The derbies are huge games,” said Fowler as per an ISL media release. “They mean a lot to the fans and of course, they mean a lot to the players. But the important thing is you got to go into them and try to use your head. You got to try and be sensible. In these types of games, the players can’t get carried away. You will dive into tackles, you will get too enthusiastic. So in this case, let’s try and play sensibly,” he added.
Fowler believes this derby is significant for him, not only because of the momentum such games can generate but also because it is his and his club’s debut in the ISL. And he knows the importance of getting off to a winning start.
“It’s a massive game not because we are playing ATK Mohun Bagan, it’s important to us because it’s our first game as a team,” he said. “It’s a big game. It’s huge for the fans. It’s probably one of the biggest games in India. But it’s also a chance for us to go out there and show everyone what type of team we are. The type of game where we can show our identity and what we are working on, on the training pitch.”
Ask Fowler what his favourite derby moment is and he answers that there are too many of those to single one out. If things go well on Friday, then he will add one more to that long list.