England, Scotland, Netherlands, Uzbekistan, and Australia – Rostyn Griffiths never thought that his football journey would include India as well.
“It came out of nowhere. I did not expect it, I thought that I would finish my career in Australia but never thought I’d come to India,” Rostyn tells IFTWC.
“However it was a City Group club, Mumbai is a big city, and I knew the coach so it was an absolute no-brainer. I had a few apprehensions since it was a distant land and I had to stay away from my family but I have enjoyed it so far.”
The Australian has received a warm welcome from the Mumbaikars so far, acknowledging the love but it turns out Rostyn isn’t a huge fan of the social media thing.
“I am probably one of the old gen players who do not care about social media. But the welcomes so far have been good until I have a bad game.”
A-League has been turned into a shopping market for Indian clubs for cheap but quality foreigners but often many of them have disappointed, for various reasons.
“We play in the summer so the heat will not be a problem. But the humidity is different. It’s great that we went to Dubai first because now India seems cooler,” exclaims Rostyn. Mumbai City FC held a three-week training camp in Dubai, returning in time to field their first team in the Durand Cup.
David Williams, the man who almost became a Mumbai City player early in the window, played a tiny role in Rostyn’s move to India as well.
“I spoke with David because I have played with him. I spoke with Scott Neville and Erik Paartalu as well.” However, the reviews he received about the Indian Super League and India have not been all good.
“I got a very mixed review. Some had unbelievable experiences while some had bad ones. I think the bubble was not a good thing to talk about.” Notably, Erik Paartalu had a very conflicting exit from Bengaluru FC while Scott Neville was not the eye-candy of East Bengal fans.
Mumbai’s association with the City Football Group has been a very beneficial one. They won the domestic double in their very first season under City, and have managed to attract some quality players and coaches.
“I understand the way City clubs play and the way they operate. The transition from Melbourne to Mumbai was easy. The opportunity to experience a different culture was exciting. Having Des here has been great because he is someone I know.”
Foreign players coming to a different country and not fitting in well with the coach is a common sight in football all over the world, and it was no different for Rostyn Griffiths.
“I had a good relationship with Des from the Melbourne days. I knew he would carry on like he did there but with some changes maybe. He is a very good man. You can come to him and say that something is not working and you have to change this and he would be open to that. It is a huge relief to have Des,” explains Rostyn to IFTWC.
In the twilight of his career, Rostyn Griffiths still wants to compete at the top level.
“I want to maintain my career at the same level and not drop the standards. MCFC is a club I knew would have that level. I want to play every game, only four can be in the XI but I do not want to sit on the bench.” At 34, he explains how important fitness is when you are playing in a league like ISL – “It is very important to stay fit, it is a short season and you do not want to miss much of it.”
The former Melbourne City man had been training with his new teammates for the past few weeks for the Durand Cup and ISL thereafter.
“The club finished well last season, especially in the ACL so the mood in the camp is good. We have a very young squad. The players cannot complain since the club has provided us with everything. The camp in Dubai was five-star.”
Griffiths emphasizes how important it is to like the playstyle of the team for whom you are playing.
“The playing style is something you are excited about here. You go to some clubs and you do not like the style. You are doing it because you’ve to, but here it is different. The style brings the best out of me. The teams we’ll play will throw different challenges but given the way we play, it will not be difficult,” explains Rostyn.
Griffiths has already made his debut with Mumbai City FC last week when they defeated Indian Navy 4-1.
“On some other day we would have won by 10 goals but ultimately it was our first game together. They shocked us when they scored against the run of play but we got ourselves back in the game instead of going inside a shell. We need to improve on some aspects but there were some good signs.”
Mumbai City will return to the Mumbai Football Arena after two years, and Rostyn is equally excited about getting to play in front of the fans, “I am super excited to go back to Mumbai. I am excited to play in front of the fans. I am here to win, to inspire, to help the team with my experience, and bring consistency to the team.”
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