Former ATK head coach Teddy Sheringham criticised the diet and fitness levels of Indian footballers.
The 59-year-old retired footballer, who has played for the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur during his professional playing career, was appointed as head coach of the Indian Super League (ISL) club for the 2017-18 season. The team struggled to pick up wins and the Englishman lasted just 10 matches on the job. ATK could only muster three wins under Sheringham.
On the 11th episode of the online seminar ‘The Player, The Coach, The Person’ hosted by It’s Just Football’s Chris Brown, Sheringham said, "I find the diet of the Indian players very doughy and fatty. Such a diet certainly doesn’t enhance their ability to give their best on the pitch,” he was quoted as saying by gulfnews.
“The young players have to get a football culture wherein they just keep on kicking the ball around all the time. The players have to realise that just kicking the ball around helps in continuously developing the muscles from an early age."
The former England international also felt that the grassroots and facilities also need to be focused more on in Indian football.
“There is no doubt that the grassroots levels need a huge improvement, starting from top quality training grounds to the development of a reserve team and lower age-group sides that can continually feed the main team.”
“I have seen Indian players who can barely make it through 20 minutes on the field. This simply means that a lot of the players don’t have their bodies ready for professional and top-level football.
“You never say never in football. But I have seen the huge gulf in levels between the foreign professionals and the Indian players. And when you have a situation like this then it gets very difficult to work with the lesser level players. There are so many things that need to be done really, right from the refereeing to the grass roots and even the diet of players."
Sheringham also hit out at the refereeing in the Indian Super League. “The refereeing wasn’t of the highest standard. It was ridiculously bad. In my very first game, I witnessed a horrendous challenge on one of my players, but the referee simply waved ‘play-on’, and that left me stunned.
“I believe they had drafted in some English referees, but they still need to develop this aspect of the game.”