Kolkata: Former England and Arsenal star defender Sol Campbell said on Saturday that Indian football is 50-100 years behind a “lot of other countries” and need to “catch up” in order to improve.
A member of the FIFA member of technical study group, Campbell was speaking to the media after the FIFA U-17 World Cup third-place clash between Brazil and Mali and ahead of England’s final against Spain.
“I think you have to start somewhere. Lot of other countries have got 50-100 years ahead of India,” he said when asked if India needed a England-Dna like project which started in 2014.
“You have to say what need to catch up. I think you are on the right path. Having a World Cup here for U17s gives you exposure. Also in Kolkata, there is going to be a training centre. That will help. You need coaches to talk to players.
“You also need players to go abroad and that should be happening. Whatever information you get you will seriously take football. FIFA being here should also help a lot. That kind of conversation will happen. You need time and it’s not going to happen overnight.
“One more thing is you have got cricket here. It’s a major sport. You have to understand that. The more centres you have the more the conversation with FIFA,” he added.
Campbell lauded the quality of the U-17 World Cup, saying it has come a long way since a decade ago.
“The quality is fantastic. Looking at players’ physique as well. That’s down to coaches around the world and players as standard is better than when it started,” he said.
“Even 10-15 years ago, it wasn’t that good. In few countries players were physically stronger even if that was a small difference but strength mattered.
“The skill factor, knowledge about the game is on another level. The positioning of players, systems and tactics have improved and that’s pleasing to see. Everything has gone up a notch. I think 10 years ago, Mali had skill but working together as a team and game understanding has improved,” he said.
Quizzed why England, who remained perfect en route to the summit here, cannot replicate this success at the senior level, Campbell said players need to play regularly at their club teams.
“What has happened has happened. Its all about the future now. These players have done extremely well. In the last two years the U-20s and U-19s have either won in the final or lost the final. That’s fantastic for producing players for the future.
“It’s all about what happens after this. It’s about players graduating to first teams. In the last two years, youth teams have played really well.
“We all focus on fitness and tactical side at St George’s park which is great. Now we need to see how they progress and transfer this into individual first teams,” Campbell said.