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An Indian touch to Bundesliga

Next time you follow European football, Robin Dutt could give you reason to cheer. When the top tier of the Bundesliga kicks off in August, this 44-year-old Indian-German coach from Cologne will be on the sidelines every time SC Freiburg play, reports Abhijeet Kulkarni.

sports Updated: Jun 21, 2009 01:04 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

Next time you follow European football, Robin Dutt could give you reason to cheer. When the top tier of the Bundesliga kicks off in August, this 44-year-old Indian-German coach from Cologne will be on the sidelines every time SC Freiburg play.

In football’s richest continent and in a country that has won the World Cup thrice (1954, 74, 90), this is a first for a person of Indian origin.

“It makes me proud to become the first coach with roots from India to be allowed to coach an elite league team in Germany,” Dutt, who topped his coaching course with the German football federation in 2005, told HT in an email interview.

Dutt’s father Sabyasachi is from West Bengal and he refers to himself as “half-Indian”. A visit to Kolkata hasn’t happened for long because of football commitments.

Dutt turned coach in 1995. “I played for many clubs up to the fourth division. But it was not enough to play as professional…. Therefore I decided at an early stage I will become a coach,” he said.

Success took four years in coming when TSG Leonberg, a team in the lower league, was promoted with Dutt as player-coach. But it was in 2002 that Dutt’s career got a boost when he was appointed reserve team coach of Stuttgart Kickers, a former Bundesliga club. He was elevated to chief coach the following year and stayed with them till joining Freiburg in 2007.

Dutt said he would be happy to see a player of Indian-origin in the Bundesliga now. “If an Indian possesses adequate quality, I will surely give him a trial. It would be nice if a player of Indian origin could play in Germany’s top league,” he said.

Keeping Freiburg afloat among the giants of German football is Dutt’s biggest challenge now.

“Unlike Hoffenheim (a club that reached Bundesliga in 2008-09 after being in fifth division in 2000), which is supported by a very rich patron, Freiburg cannot afford to have expensive transfer of players.

“Freiburg is a training centre-cum-team that believes in promoting own talent and we know that every day we must work hard to retain our place in the Bundesliga,” he added. And being a trendsetter, Dutt said, won’t translate into additional pressure. “There is a proverb in German which says ‘Paving the path is the target’. And that is my work,” he said. “In my coaching career, I have worked in every club as if it was my last.”