Former India International Steven Dias admitted that Bob Houghton was responsible for injecting in professionalism in Indian football, something that they lacked until then. The British coach-led India to its first-ever Nehru Cup triumph back in 2007, with a win over Syria in the title decider.
Touted as the Indian David Beckham by many, Steven Dias was a key figure in the midfield for the Blue Tigers until 2011, when he earned his last cap for India. Recalling his memories with the national side, the ex-footballer admitted that Indian footballers are now more professional now, compared to his playing days. The Mumbai-based footballer credited former coach Bob Houghton, under whom Steven played most of his career, for injecting professionalism in the players during his stay.
"Now, what we see, the players have become more professional. At my time, players hardly knew anything because there was no information on what to do off the pitch. If you talk about diet, even when I was in (joined) the Indian team in 2004, we used to eat french fries and all because we didn't know anything,” said Steven Dias, as reported by Goal.com.
"The one good phase I enjoyed (at the national team) was under Bob Houghton. He really showed us what professionalism is all about and personally, he made football so easy for me - positioning and all. So that full phase, I will never forget, especially the Nehru Cups that we played at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi," added the former Mahindra United player.
Steven Dias was instrumental in India’s Nehru Cup wins back in 2007 and 2009, under the supervision of Bob Houghton, and was also part of India’s 2011 AFC Asian Cup squad. Even though India has improved leaps and bounds over the last decade, Dias admitted that he dreams of seeing the Blue Tigers at the FIFA World Cup in the near future and lauded the efforts of current coach Igor Stimac.
"My dream is to see India at the [FIFA] World Cup. I don't know how long it will take but we are at least going step by step (in the right direction). The team, under Igor Stimac, are playing very good football now. They (players) are keeping ball possession, they know what to do attacking wise and know their roles defensively. I hope they keep this coach for a long time,” concluded the Odisha FC assistant coach.