FC Goa’s latest Spanish recruit Igor Angulo has said that the club’s spot in next season’s AFC Champions League was one of the main reasons for him signing for the Indian Super League club.

Angulo, who can play both as a winger and as a striker, joined FC Goa on a free transfer ahead of the 2020-’21 season after spending four seasons at Polish club Gornik Zabre.

But at 36, the Spaniard decided to make a big switch in his career by moving to India having previously never played outside Europe.

“The AFC Champions League was obviously one of the main factors for me signing for Goa. I want to be part of this prestigious competition,” Angulo told reporters during an online interaction on Wednesday.

“I’m a competitive player and I felt that this was the right challenge for me. It will be hard for us to play in that competition as we will face teams with a much bigger budget than us but it, in the end, it will be eleven players against eleven and I want to do my best to help Goa do well in the Champions League,” he added.

Goa finished top of the league stage in 2019-’20 ISL and thus became the first-ever Indian team to qualify for the Champions League.

Spanish players and coaches have found plenty of success in India in the past few seasons with FC Goa’s Ferran Corominas being a prime example of one such success stories.

Angulo who has played with the prolific FC Goa forward in the Spanish age-group teams said the team’s technical style of play convinced him to make the jump from Europe to India.

“Coming to India was one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” Angulo said.

“But I was at a stage of my career where I was looking for a fresh challenge. I found Goa to be the perfect club for me due to the style of football they played. I like teams that keep the ball and want to always attack. This made it easy for me,” he added.

Angulo was reported to be on the radar of Kerala Blasters as well with the Spanish forward sharing good relations with new coach Kibu Vicuna, but Angulo denied the reports of him speaking with Kerala Blasters.

“Kibu is a great friend of mine but it’s not true that I was speaking with Kerala Blasters. FC Goa were the only club I spoke with before signing here,” he said.

Angulo has been a late bloomer with his best years coming after the age of 30. In Poland, he was in prolific touch, scoring 67 goals in 94 matches.

Apart from the good feedback that he received about the Indian Super League and FC Goa, FC Goa’s youth policy played a part in attracting Angulo to the club.

‘Similar culture’

Angulo who was born in Bilbao has been a supporter of La Liga side Atletic Bilbao. The team has the policy of signing players only from the Basque region.

Despite this, Bilbao continue to be competitive in La Liga and are among only three teams in Spanish football to have never been relegated from the top flight. They are in good company with Real Madrid and Barcelona being the other two sides.

FC Goa, like Bilbao, too have been extremely consistent in the ISL but are yet to win the trophy. It’s however their focus on the academy that struck a chord with Angulo. FC Goa had 8 Goan players in their squad for the 2019-’20 season.

“Bilbao are a club that give a lot of importance to the academy. From a young age, they treat the players professionally. I feel Goa is the same,” he said.

“I was talking to the coach and he said there are a lot of good, talented local players in our squad and I look forward to meeting them. I like this type of club,” he added.

FC Goa will enjoy home comforts in the 2020-’21 ISL as the entire season will be played in the state but there will be no fans allowed in the stadium due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s not good to play without fans as you miss the power that the fans give you. I was told Goa have the best fans in India, so it will be a big problem but it will be the same for all teams. At least playing in our own stadiums will make us more comfortable than the other teams,” Angulo said.