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Bertos was close to Thai deal before signing to play in India

Jul 25th, 2014 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News, Sport

INDIA BOUND: Leo Bertos is relishing a new challenge abroad.  IMAGE: Matthew Lau

INDIA BOUND: Leo Bertos is relishing a new challenge abroad. IMAGE: Matthew Lau

Leo Bertos came close to playing football in Thailand before he signed to play in India.

The 32-year old will be moving to India with his wife in three weeks to join the Kolkata giants East Bengal.

The deal was finalised last weekend after Bertos spent a couple weeks in Thailand talking to local clubs about playing there.

He says he is relishing a new challenge.

“I’ve spoken to some players who have played in the competition, most speak English over there and are very accommodating.

“I’m coming to their country, so I’ll have to adjust accordingly as not everything is tailor-made to suit me.”

Bertos was not offered a contract extension by Wellington Pheonix at the end of the last A-League season.

With the Pheonix being the only major football club in New Zealand, Bertos knew that any move would involve relocating himself and his wife offshore.

“I will encourage myself to experience their culture, I want to be part of all that in their environment,” he says.

After representing the Futsal Whites earlier this month against Australia, Bertos would enjoy playing for the  All Whites again.

“At the moment my main focus is to do my best for my club, I’m concentrating on getting ready for the new season.  A call up [for the All Whites] would be nice, but we’ll see what happens.”

Bertos will become East Bengal’s marquee player because he played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

A marquee player has been defined by the All India Football Federation as a foreign recruit who has represented his country in any of the Continental Championships or the FIFA World Cup.

Bertos has officially signed a two-year contract with East Bengal, which is one of India’s strongest football teams having finished second in the I-League last season.

Statistics earlier this year ranked the I-League as the 92nd strongest national football league in the world, seven places ahead of the A-League.

Bertos is currently one of only two foreign players at East Bengal, the other being Nigerian striker Ranti Martins.

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