Chennaiyin FC coach Gregory looks to bring side back to glory

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Chennaiyin FC coach Gregory looks to bring side back to glory

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SportsCafe Desk

07/20/2017

Chennaiyin FC 's new boss John Gregory is determined to get the side back to winning ways after their seventh-placed finish last season. The side has announced the signing of Spanish full-back Inigo Calderon for the next season, after his contract with his former Cypriot team expired this summer.

The leakydefence was a huge concern for Indian Premier Leauge side Chennaiyin FC last season, which saw them letting in 25 goals in 14 league games, and their new British manager John Gregory seems to be keen to experiment with the proven blend of youth and experience to solve the crisis. Inigo Calderon has been playing at the top level for 10 years now with successful stints with Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion and Anorthosis Famagusta. Chennai already have 23-year-old Abhishek Das and 28-year-old Nallappan Mohanraj on their right-defensive flank, who could be brilliant understudies to the 35-year-old.

Gregory believes that the Vitoria-born could bring into his dressing room the much-needed leadership and vision, which has evidently gone missing since their 2015 feat.

The Chennaiyin FC coach said, “Inigo is a player I know very well from his time in England with Brighton. He is not only a top-class defender but also a leader on and off the pitch. His quality and experience are going to add great value to our defence and I am sure the Indian players will also get to learn a lot from him," reported PTI.

An academy product of Deportivo Alaves, Calderon started his professional career with third-tier Spanish club Alicante CF. Three unimpressive seasons at the club led to his release in 2005, and it was his boyhood club that came to his rescue. Alaves, then a La Liga2 side, gave him a break in their first eleven and he got a chance to prove his grit.

However, it was his move to English side Brighton and Hove Albion two years later that brought him to the fore. The Spaniard played a crucial role in helping the Seagulls move up to the Championship (second-tier English football) and even was on the verge of promoting them to the Premier league too, but Brighton saw themselves losing in the playoffs twice- in 2013 and 2014. He was also voted the club’s player of the season by the supporters.   

Calderon, however, didn’t choose to renew his contract with the club and moved to Cyprus in 2016. His defensive displays helped Anorthosis Famagusta to finish in a decent sixth position in the league, but his aged feet weren’t a risk worth taking for the European side anymore.   

It is definitely worth a gamble in ISL though, which has seen numerous aged players making a mark in the last few years. And Calderon, who comes on a free transfer for the 2017-18 season,  would have a challenging task adapting to the change. 

Speaking to the media, Inigo said, “I am excited about this new challenge of moving to India and playing for Chennaiyin FC. Following a conversation with John, I did not have to think twice about this move as I see huge potential in the Indian Super League and hope to contribute further to its growth but more importantly help the club win back the title they won two years ago.”

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