Rohan Ricketts has played for Dempo in India and Spurs in London. Having looked at Rohan Ricketts career before he reached India. We now turn our attention to his experiences in the I-League which did not have a happy ending. So what did he say about India, the countries footballing future and what did they say about him. Rickets signed for Dempo FC in August 2012. He scored once in his ten games for the club in his stay that only lasted five months.
In the November he was involved in a major dispute with the manager after a game with East Bengal. This included claiming the coach had told him to lower his standard of play. Then in January 2013 Dempo suspended him for 48 hours (1). Ricketts claimed he had been receiving threatening tweets and notes left in his car by people acting for the coach. He took to twitter again to announce -
“I can’t take this anymore!!! Not feeling safe along with actions of the coach which directly and indirectly affect have broken my spirit I came here to play football and help develop the game but this experience has killed me.”
When Dempo’s coach, Armando Colaco, was asked at a press conference he said “ Yes, the management has taken a decision (to suspend him). I have been with Dempo from the start and have been with 3 generation of Dempo’s and they know who I am. So if a guy comes and says rubbish about me, then it is unwarranted. Football should be the winner.” “If one of the senior players had said this, we could have had a discussion. But despite all his talk, aren’t we top of the table? Haven’t we won it all? Who is Rohan Ricketts to talk about all this? He should have kept his mouth shut and concentrated on his game,” He further added that Ricketts “has been the one player who has poisoned the brains of some of the other player.” He then revealed he had offered to stand down but the Chairman had backed him.
Ricketts met with the Dempo Chairman agreed a compensation package and within a few days signed for Club Deportivo Quevedo in Ecuador.
After leaving India he gave a number of interviews. Stating he only agreed to sign for Dempo having been convince they wanted to grow the game. He said “India isn’t really known for its football, I knew it would be different to Europe but the challenge of living in another country and helping them to build up the reputation of football really appealed to me. It certainly was a world away from London. It gets so hot there that we were doing all our training sessions and practice matches early in the morning before it got too unbearable. It was fascinating to live in such a different culture, I was late for training on a couple of occasions due to cows in the road which was certainly something I had not experienced before and was I confronted with severe poverty in certain areas, which was difficult to see.”
His time in India was one of “Mixed emotions, really. I met some great people and the players were genuine. But the coaching was a problem and the football was disheartening. It was very poor. The club was a good one, the champions, and had they had a great chairman. But the general level wasn't good and while some could have just gone there and taken the money it wasn't for me.”
Commenting on the future of Indian football “India is a sleeping giant. At the moment they are ignorant as to how things should be done. Money is not prioritised correctly. The standard needs addressing. They should invest in sending young players to Europe or South America so that the future is bright. They need to be educated. And I can always go back there when I'm older.”
When asked about his problems at Dempo “On the pitch, it was great to taste victory on the first day of the season after such a long break away, but it really was a different game to the one I am used to. It was the tactics that were lacking, rather than the players' skill level, so I was confident we would improve as the team gelled. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see if that would be the case. I had joined the team under the impression that they wanted me to play as I do and that they wanted to develop a passing style.
However the coach soon made it clear that he was expecting me to adapt to the way they played. It didn’t help that he was trying to play me as a striker rather than an attacking central midfielder. I had some discussions with him about this in the early days and he did start to play me in the right position. I mentioned everything that was happening on my Twitter account, something the coach was not happy about. When the Indian press asked him about the things I was saying he denied it and said that I had misunderstood.
I knew that I hadn’t, although I do recognize that talking about it in 140 characters on Twitter was perhaps not the best forum. I was just frustrated because I wanted the team to do well. As a result of my comments I was put on the bench for the next four games, in both the Goa and I League‘s. The team did not do as well as we had been doing and it was really hard to sit and watch, but I remained professional and trained hard. It was a big plus to have moral support from a lot of the key members of the squad. This is something that can be rare being a player in a foreign country.’
“Eventually after keeping my focus and positive spirit, I was re-instated in the starting XI against Salgoacar FC. The game was tough but we ended up winning 2-1, and I scored my first I League goal and then set up the winner. After the game the coaches and players were in a good mood and we had gone two points clear at the top of the table. I had hoped that was the turning point for me but unfortunately things didn’t improve with the head coach. It was a really uncomfortable situation with him and again I spoke out about the difficulties I was having on Twitter. After my first tweets I had spoken with the President of the club, who is a great guy, and he was supportive but obviously I understood that he needed to run the club successfully and for that he needs a united team. I wasn’t trying to unsettle things with my later tweets but I couldn’t stay silent. After further discussions with the President it became clear that my position at the club was untenable. I can’t talk about everything that happened there but suffice to say that I have the utmost respect for the President and my team mates at Dempo SC along with the many fans who I met while I was there. I wish them every success this season.’
If there are any I-League or Dempo fans out there and have a view do share it.
Credits for - A Passage to India and A Spur in India.
Notes 1 - Dempo Club statement. - http://demposportsclub.com/?p=1635
Thanks - Sky Sports, Daily Mail, Dempo FC, Lesrosbifs.org, MLS, Rickets own website. Times of India, Action Images,
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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