Meet the man trying to unlock India's vast football potential

Englishman Stephen Constantine chats to Team 33 about managing the likes of Nepal, Sudan, Rwanda and Malawi

BY Raf Diallo 09:29 Thursday 3 August 2017, 9:29 3 Aug 2017

From Delhi to the Den

In international football, India - like China - remains the game's great enigma.

Even factoring in the popularity of cricket, a population of over 1 billion would still be expected to produce a squad size of 23 capable of being a mid-ranking football power or continental challenger at the very least. Of course, football and development is rarely as simplistic as that.

The man tasked with turning the senior team's fortunes around is Stephen Constantine, current India manager who is in his second spell in charge of the country.

The Englishman, with Cypriot roots, has been a globetrotter as a manager. Aside from periods as a club coach and manager in England - including Millwall - Greece (as an assistant to Lawrie Sanchez at Appolon) and Cyprus, Constantine has had to be resourceful and has taken charge of some of the less well-known international teams in Asia and Africa.

Apart from India, he has managed Nepal, Malawi, Sudan and Rwanda, enjoying relative success but also facing trying circumstances in most of those cases.

He has detailed his wide-ranging coaching career in his autobiography From Delhi to the Den co-written with BBC journalist Owen Amos and this week, we had the pleasure of chatting to him on Newstalk's Team 33

Among the issues, he spoke to us about were the amount of progress being made in Indian football with the rise of the Indian Super League and growing popularity, as well as the challenges.

He also touched on how difficult it is to get on the coaching ladder in England, encountering a friendly face in Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and the challenges of taking on the least powerful football nations.

Plus, he spoke of the early challenges he faced when he left home as a teenager while living in Cyprus in order to make it as a footballer.

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player or stream/download for free on iTunes:

You can get in touch with the show by tweeting @teamthirtythree.

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