Roy Krishna Comes Full Circle

Krishna described the move as coming “full-circle,” which is a reference to the arrival of Girmityas to work in Fiji’s sugar industry over 140 years ago.
22 Jun 2019 17:18
Roy Krishna Comes Full Circle
Roy Krishna in his ATK kit.

The growth of Roy Krishna is a story as irresistible as some of his runs.

The striker finalised his move to Indian Super League (ISL) team ATK on Tuesday, in a 12-month deal reportedly worth approximately $1.2 million plus bonuses.

Krishna described the move as coming “full-circle,” which is a reference to the arrival of Girmityas to work in Fiji’s sugar industry over 140 years ago.

Explaining his decision, which surprised some, the Fijian captain said it simply came down to which club valued him the most.

“I had a few offers from A-League teams and some from Asia but no-one was really desperate to get me,” he told SUNsports.

“ATK approached me halfway through last season and I said no but they never gave up hope and kept coming back.”

In choosing ATK, the 31-year-old refused offers from several A-League clubs, as well as teams from South Korea, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Incidentally, the Siberia, Labasa native will be visiting India for the first time when he joins the club next season.

All Krishna can think about is making a mark in the country, in a similar way he took the A-League by storm in the 2018/19 season.

If he does indeed impress, it could open up opportunities for other Fijian players to join the growing ISL, which is one of two professional leagues in India.

“I’m not going there for a holiday; I’m going to play football. All I’m thinking about is the league and it’s a big league where some big players have played,” he said.

“It’s not going to be easy but I’m excited for the challenge.”

ATK’s most prominent former players include Irish international Robbie Kean, Portuguese international Helder Postiga and Spaniard Luis Garcia.

Krishna’s signing was seen in India as a statement of intent from ATK, who finished last season on 6th place and last won the competition in 2016.

Krishna joins the team on the back of a massive season with the Wellington Phoenix, his 18 goals in 26 matches helping them reach the playoffs for the first time in four years.

The environment in India could pose a few challenges, although he has dismissed those suggestions.

Moreover, despite the league’s growth in recent years, football standards in India will likely be inferior to the A-League.

That makes the move intriguing for one of the most coveted strikers in the region, a man at the top of his game.

The length of his contract has also come as a surprise despite his age.

But Krishna sees himself playing at a high level for the next five to 10 years.

“I haven’t got any major injuries lately and that will be the big factor in deciding how long I play. I am looking after my body well so (I’ll be playing for) maybe another five or 10 years,” he said.

In Krishna, ATK have secured a striker with raw pace and power capable of taking on any defender on his day.

Despite his diminutive size, Krishna has excelled as a No.9 against bigger and more imposing defenders – something he first learned to do at bazaar tournaments in Labasa.

“The physical battles have been in my blood from day one. I used to play bazaar tournaments in the village and my dad put me with the big boys and I used to get kicked a lot,” he said.

“But he always told me to get up and keep playing and that’s where I learned to never give up. So playing with the big boys then and now is the same.”

Before he departs for Kolkata, Krishna’s immediate assignment is with the Vodafone Fijian national team in next month’s Samoa Pacific Games.

He will join camp on Monday and likely lead the side in Apia, where they face American Samoa, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Tuvalu in pool play.

However, the forward may not be available as frequently as he has for future national team assignments, given the geographical location of his new club.

“That’s something I need to sit down with the coaches and discuss,” he said.

“When I was based in Wellington it was easier to come to Fiji and play but now I might not play the games that are not so important because of the distance between India and Fiji. But obviously whenever the national team calls I’m ready.”

Edited by Osea Bola


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