Amey was an integral part of the Mumbai City FC team that went away with both the Indian Super League (ISL) Winners Shield and the ISL trophy. The 23-year-old made 20 league appearances for the team last season and recently signed a new four-year contract with his hometown club.
The Bridge caught up with him and asked him a few questions about the historic season with Mumbai City FC and what he expects in the upcoming season. Following are excerpts:
On winning the Indian Super League
We started by asking Amey about the historic double last Mumbai City achieved last season, and here is what he had to say:
"Being a local lad from Mumbai, I have always dreamt of playing in the ISL with Mumbai and lifting the trophies with the team. So signing for the club was the first step; getting to play some matches and winning both the trophies with the team felt like a dream come true. It is a different feeling to win something for your city."
Pep Guardiola's Message
It is always a dream for many players to lift trophies for their local club, and Amey showed us that dreams to come true. He was a part of the FC Goa squad that won the ISL Winners shield in 2020, and he went one step further and won the double with MCFC. Unfortunately, in the ISL final, Amey suffered a concussion that made him leave the match in between for further medical treatment. Even though he could not join his team on the pitch for the celebration, he received a special message from the two-time UEFA Champions League-winning coach Pep Guardiola. Here is what Amey had to say about the video message from Pep.
"I had never even dreamt of getting a text or a video message from Pep. I was way too happy seeing the message; it was one of the best moments of my life. He is my favorite coach in the Premier League, and I love the style of football he plays. Our coach Sergio Lobera also tried to use the same philosophy. It was just a surreal moment for me; I hope to meet him someday".
On signing a new contract with Mumbai City FCAmey recently inked a new four-year deal with Mumbai City FC, and we could not help but to ask him about he felt after committing his future to his local club.
"I never had second thoughts signing about signing the contract. Being a local boy, you always want to play your local club and win more trophies for it. After winning two trophies in my first season, it has motivated me to achieve more, and we have a special challenge in the form of the AFC Champions League that awaits us. I also love the philosophy of my coach Sergio Lobera, and how he wants us to play. It feels like home here, and I want to continue for a long time."
Approach to the AFC Champions LeagueThe winners of ISL Shield represent India at the AFC Champions League, and after FC Goa, Mumbai City will be the second club that will play in the tournament. The Gaurs had a fabulous debut at the ACL, and their performances won appreciation from football fans across the country. Amey and his club Mumbai City will be looking forward to taking part in the ACL. Here is what he had to say about how the club is approaching the Champions League.
"We just do not want to play in the AFC Champions League; we want to win in the tournament. We want to play good attacking football and qualify further (than FC Goa). We will work hard in the pre-season and the ISL season. Mentally we are getting ready to play a very long season, we know it will be a challenge, but we are up for it. The entire team believes that we can do better, and we can qualify in the further rounds."
Being a part of a bio-bubble againThe reports coming out say that the ISL will be happening in Goa, like last year under closed doors. So how is MCFC approaching the pre-season and being a part of the bio-bubble again?
"The club has not confirmed the dates of the pre-season. I am waiting for their call. Being a part of the bio-bubble is mentally tough and challenging. Last season we felt the challenges of being a part of the bubble, but what got us through was the bond our team shares. The time we spent together as a team, even after training sessions, meals got us together. We got to know more about each other better. We expect it to be similar this year as well. I don't how exactly is the management planning the bio-bubble. But we will approach the bio-bubble with a positive mindset."
On playing for IndiaIn a recent press conference, the Indian national team coach Igor Stimac said that the right-back position was a problem for him. He explained how the right-backs that did well in the ISL missed out on the national team camps because of injuries, and he said Amey was a part of that list along with Ashutosh Mehta and Ashish Rai. We asked his opinion of Igor Stimac's remark.
"It is a footballer's dream to play for their country. I want to represent my country; it is a target I have. When the coach thinks that I deserve the national team call-up, he will give me the call. I will try my best till then and continue to work hard."
The implementation of the four- foreigners rule in ISL
The upcoming ISL season will implement the four foreigners rule, i.e., only four foreigners will be a part of the playing eleven for a team; it was five until last year. We asked Amey his views on this and if it's the right way for Indian football.
"We learn from the foreign players, but Indians also have to play. We just cannot learn from the foreigners and not play. So then, the rule will help Indian footballers grow. More Indian players will more game time. Hopefully, we will soon have a starting lineup of all Indian players for a club."
On the long off-season in Indian Football
One of the major criticisms that Indian Super faces are about its length. On average, an ISL season runs up to 5 months, which makes the off-season bigger than the actual season. We asked Amey about the challenges of having such a huge off-season.
"It's complicated for us to stay at home and train. It's challenging without having a training session with the team. It's because of the COVID situation now, but I hope the situation in the country improves. Two years back, we had the Super Cup that made the off-season a bit shorter. After the situation gets better, we hope the Super Cup is back. In Mumbai, we have fewer grounds to train, and we need on-ground training. We play on the turf sometimes, but it's not enough. Hopefully, the situation gets better."
The upcoming ISL season will tentatively start in November, and we cannot wait to see Indian football back on our TV screens.