Sergio Lobera: I decided to come back to the ISL because I was very happy working in India and we love this country
Lobera is a proven stalwart, and that reflects in his illustrious cabinet containing the ISL League Winners Shield, the ISL Trophy, and also the Super Cup.
Certain coaches become synonymous with leagues on the rise by securing an iconic status with everlasting legacies in their respective competitions. Sergio Lobera is scripting his own story in the Indian Super League (ISL), with the Spaniard now heading his third team in the top-tier (Odisha FC) after previous stints with FC Goa and Mumbai City FC. Lobera is a proven stalwart, and that reflects in his illustrious cabinet containing the ISL League Winners Shield, the ISL Trophy, and also the Super Cup.
However, it is the free-flowing, entertaining style of football bringing spectators to the edge of their seats that he brought in India that has made him a favourite amongst fans.
After leading Mumbai City FC to the iconic league double in 2020-21, Lobera departed from India to manage Chinese outfit Sichuan Jiuniu F.C. However, the 46-year-old returned to take over the reins Odisha FC and he says that the love and warmth he receives from the fans in India played a massive role in his comeback to the ISL.
“I think you come back to the place where you feel happy. If you didn’t work well, didn’t like the environment, the organisation, the ISL competition, you wouldn’t want to come back, would you? The reason to come back here is that when I worked before here, I was happy. It means a lot. Foreign players have options from other countries, maybe with more money, but I especially wanted to come back here because I was happy. It is a very good place to work in,” Lobera said in an interaction with the league.
In addition to the footballing culture, Lobera is touched with the love showered on him by the people in India. His family is staying with him in Bhubaneswar and Lobera believes that there is a lot to learn from Indians in all walks of life.
“My daughter is five years old and she has lived more in India than in Spain. We love this country, we love these people. They receive us in this country with a very warm welcome. We are living very happily in Bhubaneswar in Odisha. My daughter has started school now,” Lobera said.
He added, “It’s not just about football, it’s about life. Respecting all the people, different customs in different countries, for me as a father and husband, I want my wife to live this experience in India because we can learn a lot from Indian people. When you win their heart, they are very happy.”
The beginning of Lobera’s stint at Odisha has panned out similarly as before, with the tactician roping in his former players like Mourtada Fall, Ahmed Jahouh, Cy Goddard, and Amey Ranawade. He says that having familiar faces around is essential for him to quickly impart his ideas within the team. Further, he stressed that he is focusing on building a family within the club and that takes the efforts and contributions of the entire squad.
“A lot of people ask me why I sign players who have worked with me before. It’s because I know these players both as professionals as well as persons. It’s very important to build a good connection between the Indian players and the foreign players. They need to understand and help to improve the level of Indian players during training sessions as well as both on and off the pitch. They are heroes for some of the Indian players. It’s very helpful for me as coach to have players who have worked with me before, because I need to implement my ideas, philosophies, and style of play,” Lobera said.
“We are building a family, because I am sure we are going to live good moments and bad moments, and for me the winning team is the one that manages the bad moments better,” he signed off.
Lobera’s squad play hosts Jamshedpur in their upcoming encounter tomorrow.