On Saturday, the I-League could get its first taste of the EPL if Rohan Ricketts runs out in a Dempo shirt against Churchill Brothers. Named after Rohan Kanhai, the West Indies batting legend, he is an attacking midfielder who can also play striker. In 2002, Ricketts became the first player in 17 years to move from Arsenal to Tottenham Hot-spur and he is convinced that had Glenn Hoddle not quit as manager in 2003-04, he would have got a senior England call-up. East West Duel
It was at Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal that Ricketts, now 29, earned his spurs winning two successive youth cups, in 2000 and 2001. Ricketts played in the 4-0 thumping of his favourite club Manchester United in the 2001 League Cup, his only senior appearance for the Gunners. He was a regular for Spurs in 2003-04 but Hoddle’s exit and the arriv-al of David Pleat changed his career graph completely taking him to five countries before India.
“Glenn Hoddle brought the best out of me and having played for the England U-18s and U-20s, I was close to a senior England call up but he resigned and Pleat never gave me the chance,” Ricketts told HT over the phone from Margao.
About moving to Spurs, Ricketts said: “It was impossible to get into the Arsenal senior team then because they had the best team in England and possibly one of the best in Europe. The club’s transfer policy changed after moving to the Emirates Stadium because more youngsters are now getting a chance in the first team.
Even now when I meet members of the Arsenal coaching staff, they say that we were unlucky to be at the club when Arsene Wenger was building his team of Invincibles.”
Ricketts was born in Clapham, south-west London, but his parents are from Jamaica. The family tree also has an Indian connection. “My mother told me that my great grandmother is from India but I don’t know from where exactly. My father is a big cricket follower and thus named me after the great cricketer (Kanhai). He used to play for a local team in England and I also used to play cricket as a kid but I was more serious about football.”