Mumbai: Indian-origin English footballer Michael Chopra was the first pick, though not the costliest, in the International Players Draft of the Hero Indian Super League, signed on by the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters here today.
Chopra was chosen for USD 58,185 in the first round of the seven-round draft in which all eight franchises of the IPL-style tournament took part.
Michael Chopra. Pic/ Getty Images
"Pleased to have been by @sachin_rt's team #KeralaBlasters in @IndSuperLeague Excited to be working with David James @jamosfoundation," tweeted the 30-year-old England-born Chopra who has plied his trade for various clubs in his home country.
The striker, a product of Newcastle United's youth system, is currently a free agent after being released by Blackpool. Kerala Blasters marquee player-cum-manager and former England custodian David James, who has played for big clubs like Liverpool and Manchester City, welcomed the addition of Chopra into the squad.
"Chopra, with his experience of playing in English football, was our first choice as a pick in the draft. He is very excited to be part of the team co-owned by Sachin Tendulkar. He wants to improve Indian football and wants to set up academies," James said.
Chopra was not the costliest player picked up in the first few rounds of the draft. That distinction went to French central defender Bernard Mendy who commanded USD 80,000 and was drafted in by the newly inducted Chennai franchise.
Team Chennai replaced the Sun Group-promoted Bangalore franchise in the ISL which is set to be held tentatively between October 12 and December 20, the organisers announced today ahead of the International Player Draft featuring 49 players.