Costa Rican World Cupper Johnny Acosta, who is East Bengal’s biggest signing this season, on Thursday said that he joined the I-League giants because of their reputation and not talk of them jumping ship to the more glamorous Indian Super League (ISL).
“When I signed, I only knew that East Bengal are a big club with great history. I have no idea about ISL or any other tournament. I came here because East Bengal are a big club,” centre-back Acosta told reporters in a rescheduled press conference at the club tent.
The 35-year-old’s initial press meet was cancelled on Wednesday after the club inexplicably forgot to arrange an interpreter.
East Bengal, who recently roped in a high profile invester to end their financial woes, were keen on joining the glitzy ISL but the swtich is unlikely to take place this season.
According to reports, Football Sports Development Limited, the ISL promoters, does not want to increase the number of participating teams this season.
Part of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Acosta featured in all three Group E matches playing against the likes of Neymar’s Brazil.
Asked why he chose to move to India of all places and if he had the lucrative ISL in mind, Acosta added that his friend and former Costa Rican World Cupper Alexandre Guimaraes, who has been in charge of ISL side Mumbai City FC since 2016, spoke of East Bengal highly.
“I spoke to Alexandre Guimaraes and he advised me to come to India. He spoke highly about East Bengal,” he said.
Acosta, who idolises legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini, said it was disappointing that Costa Rica, despite playing so well, finished last in Group E and crashed out early.
Costa Rica lost to last-minute goals against Brazil and drew 2-2 with Switzerland, also losing their opening game 0-1 to Serbia.
“It was disappointing definitely. We were playing against such a top side like Brazil and we had almost managed to get a draw against them. Unfortunately, they scored and we were left heartbroken,” Acosta said.
On playing against Neymar, he added: “It was a very good experience for me. Not only I had a great experience of playing against the entire Brazil side. Overall a very good experience playing against Switzerland, Serbia and Brazil. Our entire team played very well.”
Known for his intensity and strength on the pitch, Acosta has played 71 matches for Costa Rica including the 2014 World Cup.