The ISL is improving in quality every year: Fran Sandaza

Hyderabad’s new signing speaks on his objectives, playing under Manolo Marquez, the ISL, and more…

Fran Sandaza became the club’s sixth new foreign signing for the season, after penning a one-year deal with Manolo Marquez’s side. As a player who has experienced football in five different countries, he is expected to bring in plenty of quality to the Hyderabad FC attack ahead of the upcoming 2020-21 Indian Super League.

We caught up with the burly Spaniard for a quick chat from Spain, where he is keeping himself fit, eager to land in India and take the field. With a few rumours already floating around of the 35-year-old’s impending arrival, Sandaza was on the receiving end of a lot of welcome messages from the HFC faithful, something that instantly made him happy to have signed. “Firstly, I want to thank the club for showing confidence in me. I am excited and happy to sign for the club and I hope to meet my new teammates soon. The fans have been fantastic and the heartwarming messages that they’ve sent me have been comforting,” Sandaza said.

The Toledo-born striker is a strong and dominating presence inside the opponent’s box. Strong in the air and a natural finisher, Sandaza has scored and played a part in some important goals throughout his career. He spent his youth career in Spain but only announced himself to European football after he joined Dundee United in 2008. In his two years at the club, Sandaza registered 11 league goals and was soon picked up by Brighton in England.

The 35-year-old was a crucial part of the Seagulls’ squad that won the Football League One Championship in 2011, starting their push to the top flight in English football. But he moved to St Johnstone before the start of the new season and then joined Rangers a year later. He did play a part in Gers’ promotion to the Scottish second division in 2013, but moved back to Spain with Lugo in the same year and then to Girona in 2014.

He enjoyed the most productive season of his career in his second stint in Catalonia, where he registered 16 goals in the league season. His efforts in front of the goal helped Girona earn their first-ever promotion to La Liga in their 87-year history.

Sandaza has since spent time in China with Qingdao Huanghai and Japan with FC Tokyo, where he also featured in the AFC Champions League with the latter. He is now excited about playing in the Indian Super League this season.

“This is a new challenge in my career. I have heard good things about the league and have ex-teammates who play here, who also spoke about the league highly. The ISL is a young league and is improving in quality every year, and I cannot wait to make my debut in this league,” Sandaza said.

Having spent most of his career in the domestic leagues in Spain and the UK, Sandaza has played under some renowned coaches, earning three promotions with three clubs in three different countries. But he is now looking forward to working with HFC head coach Manolo Marquez, who is also a popular name in his country.

“Manolo is a very famous coach in Spain. He has experience of working in La Liga, one of the best leagues in the world, which could be important for our club. I am sure he is building a great team for the new season. I have heard good things about his training methods and how he deals with players so I cannot wait to start working with him and my new teammates,” he added.

Sandaza has played in various countries and that should see him lend significant experience to the Hyderabad FC side on and off the field. So, it is no surprise that Manolo also believes that the former Girona man will be a great addition to the squad for the new season. “Sandaza is a known striker in Spain. We know him as a strong and technically gifted player and his experiences from working in different continents will help us immensely. He is a complete forward who can consistently score goals for his side. He can also create chances for his teammates and I am confident he will improve our squad,” said Manolo.

With the entire season being played behind closed doors, it is going to be a challenge for the players who feed off their home support. But having received a ton of messages from the fans already, Sandaza believes the team will have strong support from the Hyderabad FC fans and knowing that will push the players further.

“Playing all the games behind closed doors for is something new for all of us. But I can assure the fans that I am going to give my best on the pitch every game. I will do everything I can to add goals and assists to the side and help us win games. I hope it will be a good season for all of us. We will fight as a team till the end of the season, and I also want to remind the fans that we are all in this together,” concluded Sandaza.

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