Greg Stewart is one of the many marquee signings in the Indian Super League. Having arrived in India in 2021, Stewart first played for Jamshedpur FC. After a successful season that saw him bag ten goals in 21 games, Stewart made his move to Mumbai City FC. The Scotsman signed a 2-year deal with the Islanders and will be a crucial part of the club if they are to achieve success shortly.
This season, Stewart has made three appearances for Mumbai City FC in the ongoing Durand Cup. In these three games, the 33-year-old has scored one goal and dished out two assists. He looks to be in fine form, just like his side, who are on top of group B. Stewart has also taken over the role of a leader in Mumbai City FC’s dressing room this season, especially after the Islanders witnessed the exit of Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh. Speaking about the duo, Stewart said:
“It was sad to see them go because they were two big players for us on and off the field. Obviously, Mourtada was the captain, and Jahouh has lots of experience in this league. He has been here many years… It is sad to see them go, but unfortunately, this is football, people come and go, and I have seen this happen many times in my career. There is not many things I have not seen to be honest.”
If any player departs a football club, it is natural for the team to look for replacements. Mumbai City FC did the same by signing Tiri and Yoell Van Nieff. Stewart spoke about the impact and role of the new signings. “We have brought in two new foreigners to try and fill the gaps, and they have looked good so far. They are obviously getting used to the way we play. And us as a team, we are getting used to how they play. But they have been great so far, and they’ve got a lot of experience,” said the 33-year-old.
Every footballer’s career is etched in history by the milestones they achieve. While some take time to climb the ladder of success, certain footballers achieve success quickly. Stewart, who won the Scottish Premiership with Rangers, said, “I grew up in Scotland and was a massive Rangers fan. So to win the league with them back home was obviously a special feeling, and it was a dream come true for me… But everyday… I try and give my best. I don’t really think about it too much. I just think about winning games of football, and then hopefully, I can bring in trophies… So yeah, as a kid, that is probably my one special moment.”
Greg Stewart discusses his relationship with Des Buckingham
Under the leadership of Des Buckingham, Mumbai City FC has reached new heights, revolutionizing football in India. In such a scenario, Stewart spoke about the influence players like him have on tactical decisions. “Des and the coaching staff, they can give you all the advice and knowledge… but at the end of the day, when you cross that lane and go on the pitch, you have to do on your own. You have to do as a team”.
“It is up to you to implement what they ask you to do and take that into the game. When you cross that lane, the responsibility is on you now… And of course, the way Des wants to play football, me personally, that’s how I see football as well. So, we have a good relationship on how we see the game,” said Stewart.
With Albert Noguera and Yoell Van Neiff spearheading the midfield, there has been a notable change in how Mumbai City is playing right now compared to last season. Stewart, who has been a key figure in this change, spoke about the same. He said, “We have obviously recruited a player that plays same position as Jahouh in Yoel. But we already have Alberto, Apuia, and Vinit.”
“They can all play the number 6, number 8, even number 10 roles. So we are pretty versatile in that position. And of course, we also practice different formations. I don’t want to give too much.. So we have been doing lots of stuff like this to keep other teams thinking what we are going to do.”
While Mumbai City FC are now dominating in the Durand Cup, they will soon be playing top teams in the AFC Champions League group stages. Speaking about the transition to facing such a challenge, Stewart said, “As you have seen last time, Mumbai, they were more than capable of going up against these teams. They were unfortunate actually not to make it out of the group.”
“The way we play, we back ourselves against anyone. We understand (if we go up) against a big team from Saudi or anything, then you are going to be up against it… It is something we are really looking forward to, to be honest… It is going to be massive for the club.”
Football teams in the modern era have heavily emphasized the need for data analytics for success on the pitch. While many players have seemingly benefited from it, Stewart is not the biggest fan of this system. “I am not massive on it, but I understand it… Obviously, the sports science people, the fitness coaches, they want to track a lot of what your running is, and stuff like that. But I have never been massive on it. I understand why they do it, but I just go out and train, do my best, and hopefully win games of football,” said the Mumbai City FC player.
Last season, Mumbai City FC was successful in lifting the league shield. However, disappointment set over the club after they failed to replicate their success in the ISL Knockout Stages and the Super Cup. Discussing the morale of the team after the disappointment, Stewart said, “Obviously it was a big achievement for us to win the shield and the way we did it as well.
We took a lot of satisfaction from it… But then obviously we had the disappointment of just falling short in the playoffs. We lost on penalties. We actually played well… The best team does not always win, which is so good about the game. It was obviously disappointing, but we have to learn from it as a group of players.”
Along with Stewart, Mumbai City FC is also host to other talented attackers like Lallianzuala Chhangte and Jorge Diaz. Detailing the understanding between the attackers of Mumbai City FC, Stewart added, “I think we all have a good relationship. We know where we should be when a certain player has the ball. We have got really good combination play. When we don’t have the ball, we work really hard as well. If you can win the ball back and force it to the opponent’s goal, it gives you a bit of a chance to score.”
Stewart concluded the interview by mentioning that young players are coming through at the club and pushing the experienced ones to give their best always.
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