Having represented highly successful teams such as Mohun Bagan and Chruchill Brothers, Dharmaraj Ravanan became a household name in Indian club football. While speaking exclusively to The Hard Tackle, the Tamil Nadu born defender spoke about various aspects of his game – from representing India in youth level to his love for Arsenal and Thierry Henry.

  1. Though Indian Super League norms allow only five Indian players in a team of eleven, you have managed fourteen flair appearances. Did you expect to be as decisive a player as you were?

Ia m so happy that I could play all 14 matches for my team. I always wanted to play in the first eleven and that gives me special feeling because it’s very difficult to get a chance to play in the first team in ISL. I worked hard to get into the team and so I played left back then right back. It was only after 7 matches that I got chance to play in my original central back position. It’s all about hard work and never giving up.

  1. Despite your massive experience at the club level, not to mention your indisputable talent, you have not been called up to the Indian national side. Are you contented with success at the club level?

I had been a part of under-23 national team between 2006 and 2010 and won SAFF Cup. Ia m now getting my chances to play for my club and so Ia m working hard to retain my place in the first eleven. Ia m not thinking about playing for the national team because I will be happy as long as I play.

  1. Indian Super League is all charm and publicity while I-League stands for tradition. There are talks about the possible merging of the two in the near future. What effect will it have on Indian football?

Ia m here today because of I-League, but you can’t run two leagues in one country. AIFF should take a decision which is good for Indian football and players, but ISL brought crowed, sponsors, talented international players, corporate and money which the sport needs. Ia m sure more experienced coach and players will come in the coming seasons and Indian players will start moving outside of India, which has already happened after the first ever ISL season. Thata s why I believe they must merge and increase the number of teams in ISL. At the same time, you can’t ignore I-League clubs because they have done so much to Indian football and players and so, Ia d insist on bringing I-League clubs to ISL or increase the number of teams in ISL and let I-League clubs have some partnership with ISL clubs. We need ISL to improve football in the subcontinent.

  1. Given your Facebook posts, we all know that you are an ardent patron of Arsenal. Arsenal supporters are divided as far as the longevity of Arsene Wenger as the manager is concerned. Do you think he could still deliver?

Yes, I think he is the right coach for Arsenal and Ia m sure he will do it.

  1. What was your reaction when Aaron Ramsey scored the winner at Wembley last season, thereby ending the infamous title drought?

That was a great fought victory which the club, players and supporters needed very much. I cannot express those feelings but I enjoyed that moment and I hope we will do it again this year.

  1. Which player did you grow up idolizing?

When I was young, I didna t watch matches on television, but when I was in school and college, I watched my seniors playing. I got inspiration from them because at my school Bishop, people have a thing for football and my college St. Joseph produced more players, but after I came out of college, I watched matches regularly and that’s how I liked Arsenal game style and I like Thierry Henry.

  1. If given an opportunity to play for Tottenham and Manchester United, whom would you snub?

I dona t like them both.

  1. What do you think of Tottenham?

They are a good team. They play good every season but are not consistent. Unlike Arsenal, they are not title winning material.