Shillong Lajong’s Cornell Glen was one of the most consistent performers of the 2013-14 I-League as he finished as the second highest scorer with 13 goals in 19 appearances and was also the joint highest scorer in the Federation Cup with four goals. Having represented Trinidad & Tobago in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Glen came to India with a big reputation and certainly lived up to the expectations.
But what did the player make of the standard of the I-League? Sportskeeda asked the man from the Caribbean during an exclusive chat on the sidelines of the 2014 FPAI Awards, where Glen was nominated in the Best Foreigner category.
“My expectations were high so maybe it could have been better. The clubs brought in a lot of quality foreigners and there were some good coaches too so it was difficult to get results. I think there is still room for improvement but it takes time like for example the MLS, where I played for five years, took 15 years to really become a top league. The I-League is heading in the right direction but needs more investment and more quality players,” Glen opined.
Glen was certainly the talisman of a relatively young Lajong squad as he scored 13 of their 35 goals and inspired the north-east club to their best-ever finish of sixth in the I-League. The striker thoroughly enjoyed his first season at Lajong and relished being the main man.
“There is always that pressure of being a foreign player but I am the type of person who tries to lead by example and I believe I did so through my performances and goals. We had a fantastic season as it was the club’s highest-ever finish in the league and I am proud to be a part of that. Everyone at the club helped me out to settle and I have made a lot of friends here,” Glen added.
Following the promotion of Royal Wahingdoh, there will be three clubs from Shillong in next season’s I-League and Glen agreed that the Meghalaya capital is quickly becoming the new hub of Indian football.
“I think yes it is becoming the new hub. There will be a lot more games in Shillong next season which is great for the city. There is a lot of talent in north-east India and Shillong is a great example. There is both passion and quality here which I can see from the number of talents in Lajong’s senior and youth teams. I am surprised that someone like Boithang (Haokip) still hasn’t played for the national team. He is a great talent and has great personality so hopefully he will get a call-up soon,” he said.
Glen, who was one of four players to have scored a hattrick in the 2013-14 I-League, then talked about his own international career and made it clear that despite being 33 now he still intends to keep playing at international level. He is eager to return to the Trinidad & Tobago squad and doesn’t believe that playing in India is a disadvantage for his international hopes.
“I still have a few years left in me but it all depends on how fit I am. Maybe few years ago it was a disadvantage playing in a country like India but not anymore as it easy to keep track through internet as there are news and videos and matches are shown LIVE as well. Let’s not forget that I am still playing in a competitive league, keeping myself fit and scoring goals. So hopefully I will get selected for the summer friendlies and keep playing for national team for a few more years,” said Trinidad & Tobago’s fifth highest scorer in international football.
India met Trinidad and Tobago in an international friendly in 2011 with the Caribbean nation winning 3-0. Glen believes that in the last three years the image of Indian football has improved in the Caribbean.
“The perception about Indian football has definitely improved with many guys showing interest in coming here. In India you get a lot of African players but there is a lot of talent in the Caribbean too and they would be able to contribute in the growth of the I-League. I know a lot of players who would like to play here and maybe my first good season would encourage them further,” he said.
Due to his prolific first season, Glen has a lot of offers from many I-League clubs but he still has the option of one more year at Shillong Lajong. He is yet to take a decision about his future but intends to play in the Indian Super League where Lajong are the co-owners of the Guwahati franchise.
“I would definitely like to play in the Indian Super League (ISL) but I have to speak to the club owner about it. The main thing is that there is a long time until the next I-League season starts so if I remain at Lajong, I would want to be in action. The ISL is attractive but personally I feel all that money could have been used for the development of the I-League. However one good thing about the ISL is that it will give a lot of attention to Indian football,” he concluded.