Even before Scott Neville had thought of joining SC East Bengal, the defender had already heard about the Calcutta Derby. He has also seen many videos of the showpiece event of Indian club football.
But who introduced him to Indian football? How did he come to know about the Derby? The answer is Trevor James Morgan, the much loved former East Bengal coach.
“My father and Trevor Morgan are good friends. He told me about the Derby. I have seen many videos of it. It is a battle that is fought passionately and I am really looking forward to giving my best against ATK Mohun Bagan on Friday,” the right back, who can also play as a central defender, told The Telegraph.
ATK Mohun Bagan are known for their attacking style of play. If SC East Bengal have to do well, their defenders have to be rock solid at the back, and a lot depends on Neville. The former A-League player is ready to take on the challenge.
“I have watched ATK Mohun Bagan’s game against Kerala Blasters. They are a good side and have good players too. I know Roy Krishna and David Williams. I have played against them in the A-League. But we don’t want to think about the opponents. We just want to focus on our strength and our qualities, those are the things we need to worry about. We are looking for a good start to the season,” Neville said.
The defender had played under Robbie Fowler’s coaching last year at Brisbane Roar in A-League. Not just that, he has also played alongside Fowler.
“I have known him for long. I even played with Robbie at Perth Glory when I was 19. He coached me 12 years later and I have another opportunity now to play under him. I just love the style of football that Robbie and assistant coach Anthony Grant bring to the table, the plans he has for a club like SC East Bengal… His (Fowler’s) overseas recruits for East Bengal reflect his vision,” Neville, who had started his career as a midfielder, said.
The defender has also been impressed with what he has seen of the Indian players. “I’ve been impressed with the Indian players and their attitude. They have the desire and tenacity to do well.
“They always give 100 per cent in training and off the field, they have been welcoming to the foreigners. We are close as a group, we all hang out together. We play pool, table tennis, cards and carrom. We understand each other’s culture really well and we’ve mixed well too. I believe it would definitely help us on the field,” he said.
He wants to know more about Indian culture. “People speak in so many languages here, it’s amazing. Whenever I get time, I try to get some ideas about the country.”
Neville admitted that East Bengal have not had the ideal preparation for ISL VII, but he has no complaints. “Everything has been disrupted pre-season because of the Covid-19 issue. But every player is also relieved that we can go out and play football. Unfortunately, it won’t be before a crowd, but we know that they will be right behind us. Potentially, it might take us a bit longer to rustle up speed, but we have adapted well and trained hard. So no room for excuses.”
Neville is an admirer of former England and Liverpool star Steven Gerrard. “He is my favourite player simply because of his range in delivering quality passes. When I was a kid I used to watch almost every game of the Premier League, Champions League and that too at 3am in the morning due to time difference.”