Indian Football is passing through one of its most crucial and important transfer seasons courtesy the introduction of two new corporate backed I-League clubs and the decision to allow fielding all four foreign players in the I-League by AIFF. This season seems no different with Dempo leading the pack with the signings of former Australian international Simon Colosimo and former Republic of Ireland U-21 striker Billy Mehmet. Dempo had a forgettable last season and since then a lot has changed at the club. Armando Colaco left his coaching role and Arthur Papas was brought in. Both signings have been made after the advice from Papas.
Billy Mehmet To Add Punch To Dempo Forward Line
“Arthur Papas made it clear that he wanted me to sign for the club and I’m confident with his guidance we can achieve success. I’m happy to be joining Dempo and I’m looking forward to a new challenge with the I-League’s most successful team. I’m confident we can better last season’s league position” – Billy Mehmet on joining Dempo.
The 29 year old former Republic of Ireland U-21 striker was identified as the primary target by new Dempo coach Arthur Papas when he took over as the reigns of the club. Dempo had a poor season which was largely due to a misfiring forward line and the failure to sign a replacement for Ranti Martins who left the club last summer. Measuring at 6ft 2 in, Mehmet has had a good track record at the club level having made a name for himself in the Scottish Premier League and the A-League and may prove more than a handful for the I-League defenders.
A product of West Ham Football Academy, Mehmet had offers to join Norwich, Arsenal, Millwall and Crystal Palace as a youngster. He played 2 years with Dunfermline Athletic and then 5 years with St. Mirren in the Scottish Premier League. With Dunfermline Athletic he played a key role in the club’s impressive run to the Scottish Cup final but it was with St. Mirren that he truly burst on the big stage. He helped St. Mirren qualify for the Scottish Premier League from the first division and then was the top-scorer for the club for three consecutive seasons – 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10. He also scored a memorable goal in his club’s 1-0 over Celtic in the Scottish Cup. Mehmet joined A-League club Perth Glory in 2011 and scored 10 goals in the season. It was here that he caught Papas’ eye with his goal-scoring instincts. Before joining A-League, Mehmet spent a season in Turkey where also he was also among the goals.
Mehmet, known for his brilliant body control and attacking play, is expected to add much needed steel to the Dempo forward line and be a guide to the younger strikers in the team especially Jeje and Gabriel Fernandes. Dempo midfield created a lot of chances even last season but pathetic finishing from the strikers let them down. With the presence of a clinical center-forward in form of Mehmet, Dempo, boasting of one of the best midfields in the nation, will look to get back among goals. In addition, Mehmet posseses super ball control and superb agility which helped him make a mark around the globe and Dempo is all set to benefit form the striker. Expressing his desire at the completion of the move, Papas said
” One of the other areas that impressed me about Billy is his ability to positively influence the younger players he has played with and with much change in our squad we needed to identify a positive role model in addition to the right footballer. “
Simon Colosimo Strengthens Back-Four
“Simon is a player with a high level of experience in Australia, Europe and Asia, and internationally has represented Australia at all age levels culminating in nearly 30 full senior appearances. He has captained many of the teams he has played with and I expect him enhance our football style whilst imparting his knowledge, leadership and professionalism to assist our club in a time when we are undergoing a transition period.
“It is a coup for the club to have signed a player of Simon’s caliber for next season.” – Arthur Papas on Colosimo’s signing
Dempo’s defense is as much to be blamed for the club’s below-par performance last season as is the forward-line. A constantly changing back-four, injuries to key-personnel and a lack of leadership meant that Dempo conceded a large number of goals specially towards the fag-end of the tournament. Arthur Papas witnessed this himself when his Pailan Arrows side defeated Dempo 2-0 at their home-ground and it came as no surprise when he made Australian international Simon Colosimo his first signing.
Colosimo has represented Australia at all levels starting with the U-20 and U-23 levels and then with the senior team where he played 25 matches for the Socceroos. The 34 year old scored 3 goals as well for the national team. With the national team he won the OFC Nations Cup twice – once in 2000 and then again in 2004. The 6 feet tall defender drew interests from Bayern Munich and Panathinaikos before he joined Manchester City for a season before joining Belgium club Royal Antwerp.
After a not so impressive spell in Europe, Colosimo returned back home and joined Perth Glory before leading Pahang FA to the triumph in the Malaysian League where he played a key role, scoring 6 goals in the 20 matches he played that season. Since then the defender has been playing in the A-League with several clubs – Perth Glory, Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart besides a four month stint with Turkish club Sivasspor. Colosimo is a decorated player in A-League and has captained both Perth Glory and Melbourne Heart besides winning the A-League with Sydney FC, where Alessandro Del Piero is currently plying his trade.
Colosimo is expected to be the leader in the heart of Dempo defense and guide other defenders in the team specially youngsters like Shallum Pires, Joy Ferrao and Prathamesh Maulingkar as Dempo look to build a team for the future. He is the second former English Premier League player to join Dempo Sports Club after Ricketts had joined the club last season. With the experience of playing in Premier League and A-League behind him, Colosimo shouldn’t find it tough to encounter the opposition forwards in I-League once he settles down. His presence is expected to bring calm to the back-four of the Goan giants, something which was missing from the team in last season and his partnership with highly rated Prathamesh Maulingkar will be one to watch out for in the coming season given the fact that Arthur Papas rates Prathamesh very highly.
All eyes will be on Dempo and Arthur Papas next season as to how he uses the duo of Billy Mehmet And Simon Colosimo to lead Dempo to yet another title. The quality of duo is unquestionable and once they settle down, they should help raise the standard of the game in India and give the fans a reason to cheer.