Eidur Gudjohnsen prepares for 'spicy days' in the Indian Super League

Former Chelsea and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen spoke to ESPN's Debayan Sen on signing with FC Pune City for the upcoming Indian Super League season.

From Iceland to England to Spain back to England, to China and now to India. Tell us, Eidur, how this stint in FC Pune City came about for you?

Yeah, it was about a few weeks ago, when I was considering my destinations for the coming season. That's when the management, the coach (Antonio Habas Lopez) and the directors came in contact with me and made me this offer to be their professional for the coming Indian Super League (ISL) season.

I found this offer very interesting, and I must say I have enjoyed my time here (in Spain) training with this team. I am looking forward to the ISL kicking off this season.

Your most recent assignment was the Euro 2016 with the Iceland national team in France. Your team was the toast of the sporting world for the way that they fought. We in India have a much larger base of footballers, but we were left wondering how you guys did what you did?

Yes, in fact, what we have done in Iceland is that we invested a lot in youth, and in facilities. We are reaping the benefits now, but these processes were set in motion 10-15 years back. The main thrust has to be on developing youth. That's the only way a country, whether Iceland or India, can improve in global competitions.

So is that Euro exposure and your overall international experience something you are banking on to contribute to the betterment of the ISL and Indian football at large?

Absolutely. My brief really is to be an important part of the team. With my varied experience, I have been in this situation several times. What I have to do is give everything on the field, and everything else will follow. We all need to work in the same environment.

You've been with top European clubs like Chelsea and Barcelona. If I had to ask you one big lesson that playing in them taught you, what would that be?

The main thing about playing in a Chelsea or a Barcelona is that you have got to be dedicated to what you do. You are playing at a high level of competition, and you are playing as an individual, but as part of a team. Whatever you do, you must always maintain that respect towards your craft and that of your teammates. You have to find that perfect combination (between excelling as an individual and as part of a team).

One player who was an integral part of the Chelsea team when you were playing was John Terry, and he's still going strong. Does his longevity in the game surprise you sometimes?

No, actually it doesn't surprise me at all. John (Terry) has a great mentality and he is very professional about the game. He loves his club more than anyone else I have played with. What I have observed about John is that the greater the pressure on him to perform, the better he seems to play.

Another thing is that with increasing quality of facilities and greater knowledge of the science of sport, I think more and more players find that it is possible to play at the top level for a longer time. It is tough, but possible.

Another Chelsea player from around your time, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, has now gone into coaching. Does that inspire you to believing that coaching is something you could do once you're done with the game?

Yes, why not. Like Hasselbaink, I can foresee a future in coaching. It is a big possibility, but for the moment I am concentrating on my professional career as a footballer first. I prefer living in the present, but yes, coaching after I retire is definitely something I might give a try.

Your thoughts on how the Premier League might shape up this season? Your pick for the top four?

{laughs} Oh no! Prediction is just not something that I would want to do. Let me just say it is going to be very very tight this time around.

Nonetheless, if you had to put money on the top four ... in no particular order?

If I have to pick, I would have to probably follow my heart and say Chelsea {laughs}. The rest of the top four would be the usual suspects for me -- Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal. I know some other teams have had good runs in the last few years. Leicester, of course, were champions, and teams like Tottenham and West Ham have also done well last year and the year before that. But I think these four just have something a bit extra.

You've lived in London in the past, so I'm going to ask you straight up -- are you up to speed when it comes to Indian culture?

{Laughs} Funnily enough, no. My first interaction or impression of India has been with the players and the staff during our preseason training. I have loved every minute of it. The guys are not just very nice, they are also very humble. I have no problem with broadening my horizon. You could say I am preparing myself for some spicy days ahead!