Graham Stack, backup goalkeeper for Arsenal's Invincibles, has discussed his experiences of the Indian Super League, and explained why he gave up the chance to return to the subcontinent; instead taking up a coaching role at Watford.
Stack moved to the ISL to play for the Kerala Blasters under the management of Steve Coppell in 2016, but has since moved back to the UK to join Watford's academy staff.
Speaking to Betway, Stack explained: "It was an opportunity I didn't really want to pass up. It's come at a good time – I'm out of contract in the summer and I'm 37 next week. How long am I going to be able to keep churning out one season after another?
“And then, before you know it, you maybe get a little niggle and miss a few months. You're not as desirable once you get to 37, 38. The salaries start to come down. I don't want to end up scratching around for a club and not being paid over the summer, as has happened before. It's a real nightmare."
The former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international also talked about some of the unique challenges of the ISL, which only allow for a limited number of overseas players on the pitch at any one time.
“There was a game where I came off," he said, "when we were losing to Calcutta 1-0, because we've got a foreigner in goal and we need to get our Haitian international centre forward on the pitch to try and get us back in it. For the manager, it’s a bit of a conundrum, as your best XI doesn't necessarily start.”
Stack also discussed the cultural setup in his team after moving to a new country, saying: “We had predominantly Muslims in our team and then lots of Catholics that would go to church on the day of a game. We'd have prayer areas in our changing room.
“We respected them and their culture and how they expected us to behave and act. They were very humble people, very quiet and laid back. But when it comes to football, they take their football seriously. They've got a great work ethic and are really spirited people who want to get on in life and be successful."