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Five years and three franchises. Canadian superstar footballer Iain Hume’s consistent presence in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has made him one of the most popular forces to reckon with among football fans in India. His connection with the ISL goes way back to the inception of the competition, and the striker has remained one of the finest players in the league. Until the last season, Iain Hume had been the league’s overall top scorer. Now the third leading scorer, Hume has 28 goals to his name in a record 69 appearances, most by any player in the course of five seasons; quite contrasting to some of the big stars who have featured in the league. In an exclusive interview with The Bridge, Hume shares his experience of playing in India.
Hume started his professional career in 1999 at Tranmere Rovers and stayed there for six years, following which he plied his trade for Leicester City. After playing for Leicester for three years, he moved to Barnsley for a sum of £1.2 million where he suffered a head injury. His ISL career kicked off with Kerala Blasters during the opening season in 2014. Hume's striking prowess soon made him a vital cog in the Blasters’ camp. It was he who led the team from the front to reach the final. Despite conceding the final against ATK, his five goals and three assists in the season earned him the ‘Hero of the League’ award. The forward was picked up by the Blasters in the 2014 foreign player draft. Kerala's people who were craving for a new club to support since the dissolution of Viva Kerala in 2012, poured all their sportive emotion on the Blasters. After a successful inauguration of the ISL, it did not take much time for the yellow brigade to become one of the most followed and supported football club in the league. The attendance at the Kochi stadium during the home matches started sky-rocketing with a series of commendable on-field performances by the team. With the growing popularity, the Manjappadas were getting glimpses of Hume's class which made them call him their beloved 'Humettan'. “Kerala will always be holding a special place in my heart. I was completely mesmerised by the support of the people there cheering in the yellow jerseys. Their unnerving passion kept us all going to the final of the inaugural ISL campaign. By the time the season was over, their love had showered me. Playing amidst such passionate fans was an absolute honour,” said Hume. By the end of his opening season at Kerala Blasters, Hume was able to turn the limelight towards him successfully. The big wave of fans would chant their Humettan's name whenever he received the ball during games. His performance being noticed, he was showered with offers following the end of the first season. In 2015, Hume shifted his allegiance to ATK, formerly Atletico De Kolkata. Hume further thrived in ATK and presented two memorable seasons in the red and white jerseys. In his very first season, the Canadian scored an astonishing 11 goals and four assists in a total of 16 games as the side reached the semi-finals. However, 2016 turned out to be the career-defining ISL campaign for Hume. He finally got his hands on the coveted trophy after a remarkable individual season, where he notched up seven goals, proving to be the x-factor in the side as they lifted their second title. He guided ATK to defeat his former club Blasters in a penalty shootout in the final in 2016. Hume said, “After Kerala, I was welcomed by equally passionate football fans in Kolkata. Playing for the team in red and white at the Salt Lake Stadium was another big revelation. It was at ATK, I played the best football ever in the league which culminated into a title lifting season. The memory is still fresh and I will never forget what I have been able to achieve with the club.” Following his heroics with ATK, Hume returned to his beloved Kerala for another stint during the 2017-18 campaign. However, unfortunately for the striker, injuries became the impediments and ended up as a disappointing season both for the player, club and the supporters. Although, he had more in store for the Manjappadas as he scored an astonishing hat-trick against Delhi Dynamos at their own turf during the second half of the 2017-18 season. Despite a disappointing end to the season, Iain Hume still ended up as the top scorer of Kerala Blasters with five goals from 13 games. In 2018-19 Kerala's beloved Humettan moved on to greener pastures at the age of 34. He signed for FC Pune City after a two-year long stint with Kerala Blasters. Age being a factor, yet Hume turned out to be a valuable addition to Pune’s squad, alongside Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro “Pune was a completely new challenge for me. As a senior member of the club, I was looking at a fresh brigade of players who showed plenty of potentials. Of course, it was unlike the two big teams I had played before, but the last season that I played for the club was, in fact, a new experience where we saw earning plenty of new fans throughout the season.” The 35-year-old footballer who has been associated with, Fast&Up India for the past one year puts his faith on the brand that has been his partner in all his nutritional requirement.
“The last five years have been a magical ride for me. I was pretty excited at the prospect of playing league football in India. I can say now I have played some of my best football in India and most importantly, the fans have given me a lot of support,” says Hume.
When asked about the standards of Indian football being on the rise, Iain Hume sounded confident and said, “Football in India is undergoing a paradigm shift today. Not only the ISL but also the I-League has helped to improve the standards of the game, particularly players coming up from the grassroots level. India has already earned quite a name for itself by hosting the U-17 Men’s FIFA World Cup and in another year, it will be hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup. All I can say, a bright future lies ahead for Indian football, and the key to success will be fans patiently supporting the players.” Hume who is spending some quality time with his family in the UK sounds unsure about his future in the ISL though. However, he assures of taking up new challenges pretty soon.
“I started using Fast&Up products during my last season in Kerala. I could feel the difference at once and was sure that the products were better than the other products I had used before. It took care of all my nutritional requirement during training and even in matches. I am pretty fond of the brand as I have been using their products regularly even in my daily nutritional plan when I am not playing,” said Hume.