Chennaiyin FC midfielder Julius Düker recently spoke to IFTWC about his experience in India, the Indian Super League and Chennaiyin FC.
The 27-year-old rose through the Wolfsburg youth academy and had a breakthrough with Eintracht Braunschweig where he played 72 games across two seasons for both senior and junior teams. He then went to the third division before playing one season with SC Paderborn 07 in the Bundesliga Second Division where he played 10 games. Düker had played for SV Meppen and TSV Havelse in the third tier for the previous two seasons with more than 70 appearances. He joined Chennaiyin on a free transfer after his contract expired this summer.
The German footballer, who is playing in India for the first time, has been in good form despite his team’s recent run of results. “To be honest, it’s more than I expected. The stadiums are much bigger and the crowds are larger than I thought. I’m very happy to be here and the quality of the ISL is very high,” said Düker when asked about his experience in India.
Chennaiyin’s focus during the summer transfer window was to bolster their domestic players by acquiring top talents like Vincy Barretto, Jiteshwor Singh, and Aakash Sangwan among others. These additions have already yielded positive results, with most of the players making a strong impact.
Düker was full of praise for the rising talent in the league. “The quality of the ISL is very high and it’s improving every season. There are many good Indian players in the ISL and in our team like Vincy or Thapa. The quality of the Indian players is very good,” said Düker when asked about the quality of Indian players in the league.
Foreigners often struggle to acclimate to the challenging climate of the Indian sub-continent, which can lead to them often falling out of favor at their club. Düker, who had never played outside of Germany before, spoke about the difficulty of adjusting to the weather in India as well. “Yes, it was tough at first, especially during the pre-season in Qatar with the humidity and hot weather. But I have gotten used to it now and I feel great,” said the midfielder.
Thomas Brdaric is yet to find his feet so far at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, recording only four wins in fifteen games. His team currently sits eighth on the table and will require to push hard in the remaining five games if they are to qualify for the next stage.
When asked about his experience working with coach Thomas, Düker stated, “It’s my first time working with Coach Thomas and sometimes it can be difficult, but he demands a lot from the players and team. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone for growth.”
As a central midfielder, Düker also said that he prefers to play as a number six, controlling the game’s rhythm.
The Marina Machans have drawn three games and lost twice in their last five games. Despite Chennaiyin’s recent winless run, Düker is confident about the team’s prospects for the remainder of the season. “Yes, of course. We have five more games and our goal is clear, we have to win these matches. We want to start with a winning streak soon,” said Düker.
Chennaiyin’s summer recruit, Nasser El Khayati, has been scintillating whenever he has has the opportunity to play. In only 8 games, he has scored 7 goals and provided 4 assists.
When asked about how the absence of the 33-year-old, who picked up an injury, affected the team in their recent few games, Düker said, “El Khayati is a very important part of our team and we missed him as a proper number 10 in our game. But we have other good players as well. Of course, we will be very happy when he returns.“
Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric said earlier in the presser before the Odisha game that Nasser El Khayati could have a crucial role in the next game and was pleased that he can start. However, Brdaric was uncertain about how long he will be able to play.
Düker also spoke about the home support at the Marina Arena and his reception from the fans. “I feel great here in India with the fans. I have received many messages on Instagram and I’m always happy when we play at our home stadium. The fans are amazing and they give us a big push in every game. I hope they will come to the remaining home games as well,” said Düker.
With five more games to go in the ISL this season, Düker and Chennaiyin FC will look to turn their fortunes around and end the season on a high. They will face Odisha FC next at home.
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